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Smith in doubt for 'Boks

Photosport

<a href="http://www.sportal.co.nz" target="_blank">sportal.co.nz</a>     24 Aug 2006     Photosport

Smith, who has been in excellent form this season, has been training with a hamstring strain but was forced from the training paddock mid-week after injuring his left thigh muscle.

"I'm not sure at all whether Juan will be able to play, he's gone off to get his injury checked and I'll know nothing until he gets back," Springbok coach Jake White said on superrugby.co.za.

"The injury is to his left quadriceps, so it is totally unrelated to the hamstring twinge he had earlier in the week in his right leg."

White can ill-afford to lose Smith on top of the long-term injuries to fellow forwards Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger and Gurthro Steenkamp, especially against the world-class All Blacks pack.

"Juan has been one of the stars of the season and was a form player in the Super 14, too," said White.

"He's creeping up to 30 test caps and he was playing under-21 rugby only three years ago. He's definitely needed in the team."

Meanwhile, centre Jean de Villiers returns to the Springboks starting line-up for the first time since injuring his ribs in the Test against Scotland in June. He replaces Wynard Oliver, who drops to the bench alongside returning flyhalf André Pretorius.

Fourie du Preez has retained the halfback position ahead of the uncapped Ruan Pienaar, Butch James is at first five-eighths and Solly Tyibilika keeps his position at flanker.

South Africa will be looking to register its first win in the 2006 Tri Nations on Saturday night while the All Blacks, who have made a dozen position changes from the team that defeated the Wallabies in Auckland last weekend, will be looking for a first win in South Africa since 2003.

Springboks
1. Os du Randt. 2. John Smit, 3. CJ van der Linde, 4. Johann Muller, 5. Victor Matfield, 6. Solly Tyibilika, 7. Juan Smith, 8. Jacques Cronje, 9. Fourie du Preez, 10. Butch James, 11. Bryan Habana, 12. Jean de Villiers, 13. Jaque Fourie, 14. Akona Ndungane, 15. Percy Montgomery.
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, BJ Botha, Albert van den Berg, Joe van Niekerk, Ruan Pienaar, Wynand Olivier, André Pretorius.