Springboks Recall Pienaar, Kankowski for ‘Fastest’ Rugby Surface

July 20 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa made four starting changes for the July 24 Tri-Nations Test against Australia as the defending champion seeks to rebound from back-to-back losses to New Zealand.

Springboks coach Peter de Villiers called up winger Gio Aplon in place of the suspended Jean de Villiers and also included scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, flanker Ryan Kankowski and prop BJ Botha for the match in Brisbane.

De Villiers said he based the team selection on the expected conditions at Suncorp Stadium, where Australia is unbeaten against the Springboks and has won 14 of 17 Tests.

“Statistics show that Suncorp has the fastest playing surface in the Super 14 and we have to be prepared for a faster game,” de Villiers said in a statement.

Australia, which will be playing its first match in this year’s Tri-Nations, recalled prop Benn Robinson, lock Nathan Sharpe and scrum-half Will Genia.

Center Rob Horne, fly-half Quade Cooper, prop Salesi Ma’afu and hooker Saia Faingaa will make their first start in the annual southern hemisphere championship.

AUSTRALIA: Adam Ashley-Cooper, James O’Connor, Rob Horne, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (captain), Nathan Sharpe, Dean Mumm, Salesi Ma’afu, Saia Faingaa, Benn Robinson.

Replacements: Stephen Moore, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Matt Hodgson, Luke Burgess, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale.

SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Oliver, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw, BJ Botha, John Smit (captain), Gurthro Steenkamp.

Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe, Dewald Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Butch James, Juan de Jongh.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Baynes at dbaynes@bloomberg.net