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Smit on bench for Springboks

John Smit will drop to the bench in one of five changes announced in South Africa's team on Tuesday for...

Springbok captain John Smit at a media briefing on 2 May 2011. Picture: Morné Esben/EWN

John Smit will drop to the bench in one of five changes announced in South Africa's team on Tuesday for the Tri-Nations clash with New Zealand this weekend.

The out-of-form Smit is to be replaced at hooker by Sharks team mate Bismarck du Plessis who has produced some sparkling performances recently.

Lock Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, their final match before they take on Wales at the World Cup in New Zealand on Sept. 11.

Coach Peter de Villiers said the decision to relegate Smit, who started the last three Tri-Nations games, had been planned in advance.

"John is ready for the World Cup ... but we need to keep Bismarck on his toes too. They need to compete with each other," De Villiers told a news conference at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

"It would be unfair not to give Bismarck a fair chance and we planned this a long time ago, back in May."

Gurthro Steenkamp, who was South Africa's player of the year in 2010 but has had an injury-disrupted 2011, starts at loosehead prop instead of Tendai Mtawarira.

Sharks loose forward Willem Alberts also makes his first test start ahead of Danie Rossouw.

Pat Lambie replaces the injured Francois Steyn at fullback while Morne Steyn is preferred at flyhalf to 2007 World Cup winner Butch James.

The All Blacks have sent a weakened squad to South Africa that does not include flyhalf Dan Carter, captain Richie McCaw, number eight Kieran Read, lock Brad Thorn, prop Owen Franks, fullback Mils Muliaina and centre Conrad Smith.

South Africa team - 15-Pat Lambie; 14-JP Pietersen, 13-Jaque Fourie, 12-Jean de Villiers, 11-Bryan Habana; 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Fourie du Preez; 8-Pierre Spies, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Heinrich Brussouw, 5-Victor Matfield, 4-Bakkies Botha, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Gurthro Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16-Tendai Mtawarira, 17-John Smit, 18-CJ van der Linde, 19-Danie Rossouw, 20-Ashley Johnson, 21-Francois Hougaard, 22-Butch James.

Timeline

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