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De Villiers defends Pienaar choice

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Sportal.co.nz     28 Aug 2009     Getty Images

The Sharks utility back was included ahead of Frans Steyn in the team in one of two changes to the match-day 22 following the Springboks' last victory over the same opponents almost three weeks ago - the other seeing Schalk Burger being named on the bench.

The Stormers flanker returns to the team after completing his eight-week ban for indiscipline and takes the place of the injured Danie Rossouw.

However, the axing of Steyn, who will play off the bench, is an even bigger surprise considering he started in the No.15 jersey in all three of South Africa's Tri Nations victories so far.

Pienaar had been given his chance at first five-eighths during the series against the British and Irish Lions and the early part of the Tri Nations tournament, but his failure to find accuracy with the boot saw him lose his place to the in-form Morne Steyn.

De Villiers, though, insists that the latest decision was made simply to keep all his players happy.

"Ruan is a brilliant player," he said. "I hope he will add more bite on attack. Frans Steyn has not let us down, he always pulled his weight, but it's important to keep the interest levels high of everyone in the squad.

"We are very organised at the moment, we don't want to become a fruit salad, so 15 will be Ruan's number and 10 will be Morne's number.

"Most of the time, that will be the case, but we have very versatile players as we saw in the last game when the number three [John Smit] put through a brilliant grubber which number five [Victor Matfield] chased down on the wing, so you never know what might happen in the game."

Asked whether Pienaar might switch to first five-eighths from time to time during the game, he said: "Ruan has been selected to play at fullback and that is where he will concentrate his energies.

"However, if the situation dictates, as it might, we have an option to make use of him at 10."

The Springbok boss also refused to read too much into his side's position in the Tri Nations - it sits top of the table with three wins from three games.

He added: "We are taking things one game at a time. We are going to throw everything into this weekend's match and only then focus on the next game, whatever the outcome.

"The Wallabies have had a few injury problems but we will not under-estimate them in any way. They are playing at home, which is a great advantage and they remain a very good side."

Burger's availability is also a welcome return for the visitors, following his ban which came during the second Test against the Lions in Pretoria.

"It's certainly indicative of where our team is at the moment to see Schalk at number19," captain John Smit said.

"It shows how far the team has come. It's amazing to have a bench like that."

The Springboks will be led by Smit, who will win his 88th cap at the Subiaco Oval, while halfback Fourie du Preez will play his 50th international game in the green and gold.