Irish hope their reserves are better than Boks'
DUBLIN (AP) -Ireland hope to exploit the Springboks' aversion to black jerseys when they meet at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
South Africa's usual rugby opponent in black is arch foe New Zealand, but the Irish will debut their alternative black kit with green trimming.
The Irish players like it, and they could do with some positive vibes.
They're still bruised from the 60-0 pasting from the All Blacks in their last outing in June.
"It's not a tour that any one of us is proud to have been on,'' winger Andrew Trimble said. "There's frustration at getting beaten so badly.
"It's a long time waiting to put things right. It can go one of two ways. You can dwell on it and divert down a bad path or you can bounce back from it. Hopefully we can bounce back.''
Only seven starters from that nightmare in Hamilton will run out in Dublin on Saturday, less to do with reaction to that record hiding than the effect of a staggering number of injuries.
No. 8 Jamie Heaslip, groomed to take over from Brian O'Driscoll, will captain Ireland for the first time in the leadership vacuum left by the injuries to O'Driscoll and his regular deputy Paul O'Connell, who withdrew only on Wednesday when his back locked up again.
"He's the consummate professional,'' coach Declan Kidney said of Heaslip. "When he turns up for work he is really zeroed in. He is aware of what is needed. He has been around for five or six years now. We wanted to make sure it (captaincy) was a progression.''
Ireland's long list of wounded means fielding four forwards with less than 10 caps each, including hooker Richardt Strauss making his debut opposite his cousin Adriaan Strauss, and Simon Zebo picked at the not-familiar position of fullback after one previous start, on the wing.
Strauss, who qualifies for Ireland on residency, will debut in between his fellow Leinster props Cian Healy and Mike Ross. Behind them are lock Mike McCarthy (4 caps), and flankers Peter O'Mahony (7) and Chris Henry (2).
Three uncapped players are in the reserves, forwards David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent and Iain Henderson. Bent, from New Zealand, has been rushed into the side, for which he qualified through his maternal grandmother. He's match fit, though, having played for Taranaki in the recent New Zealand championship.
"That's why we've been building a squad over the last couple of years - we always knew this day would come,'' Kidney said. "We always hoped it would be drip fed rather than en bloc, but such is the way of things.''
South Africa left at home a swag of injured players, too. Only their pool of reserves is not as shallow as Ireland's.
"It's very pleasing to see how those guys (the youngsters) have grown into their role in the squad,'' Springboks captain Jean de Villiers said. "If you look where some of them were at the start of the year, like Eben (Etzebeth) for example, and where they are now ... it's the same with Marcel Coetzee.
"It's good to see youngsters coming in to stake their claim.''
De Villiers played for Munster in 2009 and 2010, and knows what's coming.
"I have a huge respect for the Irish,'' he said. "Having played there I know them well. The results of the last four matches against Ireland show that we are in for a tight game.''
Ireland have won three of the last four tests between them.
"We'll do what we've always done,'' Kidney said. "We won't make any promises but we will give it our best shot.''
Ireland: Simon Zebo, Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Jamie Heaslip (captain), Chris Henry, Peter O'Mahony, Mike McCarthy, Donnacha Ryan. Mike Ross, Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy. Reserves: Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Michael Bent, Donncha O'Callaghan, Iain Henderson, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Fergus McFadden.
South Africa: Zane Kirchner, JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute, Jean de Villiers (captain), Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Schalk Brits, CJ van der Linde, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Morne Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Lwazi Mvovo.