SCOTLAND can just about forget any homework they have done on previous South Africa sides after injuries and the English and French ban on players taking part forced Heyneke Meyer, the Springbok head coach to get radical in the team he has selected to face Scotland.
He makes 13 changes to the 23, with the main focus being on Handre Pollard, the junior world player of the year. This time last week he was preparing to lead the under-20s to the Junior World Championship final in New Zealand. He arrived back in the country only three days ago and already is stepping up for his debut cap.
"I have a lot of confidence in him, I can't wait to see him play," said Meyer. "I thought this was the right time to get him involved. I always knew he would play for the Boks from the first time I saw him as a 16-year-old. He will bring some different dynamics to the team, he is a great defender, a great attacking 10 as well and he can kick. There is a great opportunity for him to show he can go to the World Cup."
Loading article content
The squad is a mix of youthful inexperience and grizzled veterans led by Victor Matfield, the 112 cap lock and captain, and Shalk Burger making his return to the starting line up for his 71st cap after an injury-disrupted season.
Nor was Meyer prepared to accept that the missing players devalued the game. "There are 13 changes [six in the starting XV, seven on the bench], which is not ideal, you want some sort of continuity but it was always the plan. It is the first time we have played a fourth Test match and that is what we will face in the World Cup so we need a big squad. We were always going to give a few guys chances in this game.
"Every game against Scotland has been tough since I was coach and though there are a lot of changes I am very, very excited by this team. It is always like my first Test match when a lot of new guys were brought in.
"I don't think it devalues it. It is still the best you have got in the country. You want to perform and every Test match is important. Looking ahead to the World Cup you want to see what players can do and need games like this to look at players."