Is this the end of the line for Springboks veterans Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen?

24 November 2016 - 13:29 By Craig Ray, in Cardiff, Wales

Legendary wings Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen might have played their last Tests for the Springboks in recent weeks with both set to miss out on selection today when coach Allister Coetzee names his team to face Wales. Pietersen played in the 37-21 loss against England two weeks ago and was omitted from the squad to play Italy last week.Habana missed the England match through injury but started in the ill-fated clash in Florence‚ which the Azzurri won 20-18. Both look to be out in the cold as Coetzee looks to youth in what could well be his last Test in charge. For Habana‚ who played his 124th Test last week‚ this would be the first time that he has been dropped.Whenever fully fit and available‚ Habana has been included in Bok squads since making his Test debut against England in 2004. Of his 124 Tests he started a staggering 122 times. His first Test cap was an appearance off the bench against England and his only other substitute appearance was against Tonga at the 2007 World Cup.On that occasion coach Jake White rested all his first choice players. Pietersen has played 70 Tests of which only five have been substitute appearances‚ but it also appears his time is up.Coetzee left Pietersen out of the Rugby Championship squad and the 30-year-old is now unlikely to feature again as long as the coach is in charge. Coetzee will go with a youthful backline against Wales at the Principality stadium this weekend‚ indicating that he is breaking with the past and heading into the future with a new team.Whether he has the chance to lead the revolution after a season with seven defeats in 11 Tests remains to be seen‚ but he is making his last play to save his job. Victory over Wales in itself won’t save Coetzee‚ but the message he is sending to his bosses with today’s team selection is that he will only look to a new breed of player in the future. Bulls wing Jamba Ulengo‚ Lions centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Cheetahs flank Uzair Cassiem are all set for Test debuts. Cassiem should start from the bench but there is doubt over Willem Alberts’ fitness due to a neck injury.If Alberts can’t play‚ then Cassiem will start with Jean-Luc du Preez coming on to the bench. Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies will be reunited at halfback with Johan Goosen coming in at fullback in place of Willie le Roux‚ spelling the possible end of Le Roux’s Test career as well. Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl comes on to the bench with Rudy Paige dropping out and hooker Malcolm Marx will replace Bongi Mbonambi on the wood. The back row of Warren Whiteley‚ Nizaam Carr and Alberts will be unchanged from last week unless Alberts cries off‚ tighthead Lourens Adriaanse is set to replace Vincent Koch. Probable Springbok team: 15-Johan Goosen‚ 14-Ruan Combrinck‚ 13-Francois Venter‚ 12-Rohan Janse van Rensburg‚ 11-Jamba Ulengo‚ 10-Elton Jantjies‚ 9-Faf de Klerk‚ 8-Warren Whiteley‚ 7-Willem Alberts/Uzair Cassiem‚ 6-Nizaam Carr‚ 5-Lood de Jager‚ 4-Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 3-Lourens Adriaanse‚ 2-Adriaan Strauss (capt)‚ 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: 16-Malcolm Marx‚ 17-Steven Kitshoff‚ 18-Trevor Nyakane‚ 19-Franco Mostert‚ 20-Uzair Cassiem/Jean-Luc du Preez‚ 21-Piet van Zyl‚ 22-Pat Lambie‚ 23-Lionel Mapoe. - TMG Digital

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