Botha cleared to face All Blacks


WELLINGTON, July 8- Injury-troubled Springbok lock Bakkies Botha has been cleared to partner Victor Matfield in the South African pack for Saturday's Tri-Nations opener against the All Blacks.South African coach Peter de Villiers had delayed naming his side from Tuesday to Thursday to give locks Botha (hamstring) and Danie Rossouw (hip) time to recover from injuries.

Rossouw was named in the reserves along with a fourth lock, Andries Bekker, in a largely predictable line-up.

Wynand Olivier and Jaque Fourie have been teamed in the centres with Jean de Villiers joining Bryan Habana on the wing.

Springbok captain John Smit believes it will be tough for his side to defend their Tri-Nations title — starting with two Tests in New Zealand — and the fact they beat the All Blacks in all three Tests last year was not relevant.

"To keep doing the same things and expecting the same results and not thinking that other teams will catch you would be naive," he said.

"It really is for us to make sure that we can keep stepping up each weekend."

Smit also expected the All Blacks to be primed to avenge last year’s whitewash.

"The All Blacks are going to be as competitive as they were last year, if not more so because of the fact that they didn’t win it last year," he said.

"They are the team that has won the Tri-Nations the most out of all three of us. Not winning it really irritates them.

South Africa (15-1)

Zane Kirchner, Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Ricky Januarie, Pierre Spies, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, John Smit (captain), Gurthro Steenkamp.

Reserves: Chiliboy Ralepelle, BJ Botha, Andries Bekker, Danie Rossouw, Ruan Pienaar, Butch James, Gio Aplon.