Rugby World Cup France 2007

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Friday, September 28, 2007

South Africa to use their big names against the United States

Favorites South Africa have named close to their best side for their final Rugby World Cup group clash against the United States on Sunday.

Indeed, the popular Springboks, who have already secured their quarter-final place against either Wales or Fiji, will give winger Akona Ndungane his first start in the tournament, while lock Albert van den Berg will be playing in his 50th Test.

Schalk Burger returns from a two-game suspension and will play at No.8 while Danie Rossouw recovers from a knock in South Africa’s 30-25 win over Tonga last weekend.

Fullback Percy Montgomery, lining up for his 91st Test against the American Eagles, faces a fitness test on a calf injury at training tomorrow.

"Akona hasn’t had a game at the World Cup, and I think it’s only fair that everyone has an opportunity to play here and he gets his start," coach Jake White said.

"Albert (van den Berg) is playing in his 50th Test game and I think it’s good to give him a start and also over and above that Bakkies Botha has played three consecutive games and he’s played 80 minutes last weekend so we’re going to need him going forwards into the quarters.

"It’s more about giving the whole squad an opportunity to rest and play, it’s just not about being sentimental to Albert’s 50th Test, but it’s also based on Bakkies needing a bit of time on the bench."

White expressed that Montgomery didn’t train today with a tight calf muscle, while hooker Gary Botha had a cut arm and winger Ashwin Willemse and prop Gurthro Steenkamp have mouth abscesses.

"Danie (Rossouw) is not 100 percent ready after last week’s match and scrum-half Rico Januarie has a shoulder injury," White said.

"The good thing is that by this time next week, if all goes well with the injuries, then we should have a clean bill of health for the quarter-finals, semis and final and that’s what you want to go into, you want all these players available for selection."

White will be celebrating his 50th Test as the Springboks’ coach with his success rate standing at just over 63 percent.

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