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Sprightly Springboks have an unfamiliar look about them

South Africa yesterday made just two changes to the team which beat Ireland last weekend for Saturday's meeting with Scotland but the more telling statistic was that there are only four survivors in the starting XV from the team that was shocked at Murrayfield two years ago.

Even among that quartet Francois Hougaard has a very different role having been shifted from scrum-half to wing since he last lined up at Murrayfield alongside new captain Jean de Villiers, full-back Zane Kirchner and prop Jannie du Plessis.

Consequently, for all that Scotland cannot claim to be unhappy that the likes of Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Juan Smith and Frans Steyn are not here this time around, the successors of those great players are entitled to point out that there is little or no mental scarring from that experience.

The point was delivered by Juandre Kruger who, having spent a couple of seasons at Northampton where he played alongside Euan Murray during which time he formed the view that the Scot is a world-class scrummager, is the more experienced member of an exceedingly youthful second row.

"It's the first time I've thought about it," he said when asked to reflect upon how Scotland had recovered from being thrashed by New Zealand two years ago to beat the Springboks a week later. "It's not in my thoughts at all. We're coming off a great win and we want to take it to the next level."

Taking into account the fact that the World Cup was played on neutral territory, Kruger believes the victory in Dublin, South Africa's first in seven road trips and spanning two years since they beat England at Twickenham, could prove a turning point in a new team's development.

"Earlier in the season, we were generally playing consistently good rugby," he observed. "There were one or two games like Argentina and the All Blacks at Soweto when we were not at our best, but the other away games we were generally in control and dominated the games but didn't finish the teams off. This was our first away win [of the season and anywhere for two years]."

Nor was it just a psychological lift since it took them above Australia in the world rankings, albeit still a long way behind the All Blacks.

"It's important for us as a team to be on top in the world rankings," Kruger asserted. "That win moved us up to second so as a team and as a touring squad that brings a lot of motivation. We are always a team with great energy and to win means a lot. We are all winners, so as for energy and experience that was a massive thing. There was, of course, much respectful talk from Heyneke Meyer about Scotland, who spoke warmly about the country itself as well as its rugby team having enjoyed a tour here with a club side many years ago.

However the injuries that have compounded the exodus of a year ago, when the end of the World Cup led to the retirement of many of the leading Springboks, have as much to do with the consistency of selection he has opted for as any impact on his thinking that might have been shaped by the way Scotland performed against the All Blacks.

Consequently, he has seized the chance to reinstall Gurthro Steenkamp, the Toulouse prop, who was an original squad member but missed the Ireland match through injury in favour of CJ van der Linde who joined as an emergency replacement.

The only hint of experimentation is at centre where, as Meyer had indicated he intended to earlier in the week, he has brought in Juan de Jongh alongside de Villiers.

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