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Van Niekerk replaces Smith

<a href="http://www.sportal.co.nz" target="_blank">sportal.co.nz</a>     25 Aug 2006    

The versatile van Niekerk played at No.8 two years ago in the South African 40-26 victory at Ellis Park and was on the side of the scrum in the 22-16 Springbok win in Cape Town.

However, van Niekerk has been out of favour recently after he was part of the 0-49 defeat by Australia in Brisbane.

Regarded by South Africans as better suited to the flanker's role than No.8, van Niekerk is expected to provide speed to the breakdown.

South African coach Jake White earlier referred to the loss of Smith as 'a huge, huge blow,' Supersport.co.za reported.

Smith suffered a thigh injury at training earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, South African pundits are looking at the inclusion of Chris Masoe at No.8 for the All Blacks as a sign the New Zealanders are not planning to get too involved in the tight phases in the Test.

John McFarland, the defence coach of the Blue Bulls and a former adviser to the Springboks said Masoe has been selected to work with captain Richie McCaw in defending New Zealand's possession while turning over South African ball.

"New Zealand have had the best scrum in the world for some time, but their lineout work is still not at the same level as that of the Springboks.

"They know that, and so do the Springboks. Therefore, it will be no surprise if the Springboks target the lineouts, as they did in Wellington, as their primary scource of turnover possession."

He also felt the All Blacks would look to keep lineouts to a minimum while first five-eighths Dan Carter would look to kick the ball to the South African wings and fullback in order for them to make play by launching an attack, or kicking the ball back.

"The All Blacks can work wonders with possession from broken play. That is where their tries originated in the Wellington Test," he said.