Johan Goosen. Photo: Getty Images
JOHANNESBURG: The fairytale rise of 20-year-old fly-half Johan Goosen continued Wednesday when he was named in the South Africa starting line-up for a Rugby Championship Test against Australia.
Goosen faces the Wallabies in Pretoria Saturday after making his senior debut only last year in the domestic Currie Cup championship for the Free State Cheetahs and playing Super 15 rugby union for the first time this year.
But as one-time golden boy Morne Steyn suffered a place-kicking slump that culminated in him missing four of five shots at goal in a 21-11 loss to New Zealand this month, the media and public clamour for Goosen intensified.
Steyn, famous for his halfway-line penalty that sealed a Test series against the 2009 British and Irish Lions, does not even make the bench with another rising star, Golden Lion Elton Jantjies, covering Goosen.
A criticism of 28-year-old Blue Bull Steyn was that he often lay too deep at set pieces and in broken play, restricting the chances of the Springboks crossing the gain line.
His field kicking also left much to desired at times in recent Tests, squandering hard-won possession by booting the ball too far ahead of chasing team-mates and gifting the ball to opponents.
It has been a meteoric rise for Goosen, who injured his shoulder against Otago Highlanders in the Super 15 and played only one Currie Cup match on his return before being promoted to the Springbok squad.
He came off the bench in the away losses to the Wallabies and All Blacks and gets his big chance in a match that could determine who finishes second behind runaway leaders New Zealand.
The All Blacks have 16 points, the Wallabies eight, the Springboks seven and new boys Argentina three with two rounds left of the expanded southern hemisphere championship.
"I have maintained from the outset that I will not rush Johan, but I feel he is now ready to start a Test and I am excited to see what he can bring," said Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer.
"Morne has played close to 140 matches at Test, Super 15 and Currie Cup level in the last four seasons and probably deserves a break. Morne is a fighter and I know he will bounce back."
Goosen is one of three definite changes to the team beaten in Dunedin with Eben Etzebeth, available again after a ban for threatening to head butt Australian Nathan Sharpe, and Andries Bekker recalled.
They replace Flip van der Merwe, who drops to the bench, and Juandre Kruger. Losing five of their throws against the All Blacks played a part in the decision.
There could be a fourth change if inside centre Francois Steyn fails to recover from an ankle injury, with new squad inclusion Jaco Taute from the Golden Lions on stand-by.
Australia name their team Thursday with most interest in whether Berrick Barnes or Kurtley Beale is chosen at fly-half in the absence of injured Quade Cooper.
South Africa: Zane Kirchner; Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (capt), Francois Steyn or Jaco Taute, Francois Hougaard; Johan Goosen, Ruan Pienaar; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute or Juan de Jongh, Patrick Lambie