South Africa v Italy, Witbank, June 19
Maku drafted in as Smit cover
June 14, 2010
The Bulls' Bandise Maku takes on Stormers centre Juan de Jongh, Stormers v Bulls, Super 14, Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa, May 15, 2010
Bandise Maku has been called up to the Springbok squad © Getty Images

Bandise Maku has been called up to the South Africa squad to face Italy in Witbank on Saturday following an injury to skipper John Smit.

Smit has been ruled out of the game with a hamstring strain picked up in the build-up to last weekend's comfortable win over France at Newlands. The Sharks front-rower is expected to return to action for the second Test against the Azzurri in East London. Stormers-bound prop CJ van der Linde has also been added to the squad in his absence.

The Springbok management are also monitoring the fitness of flanker Schalk Burger, who suffered an ankle injury in the closing stages against France. The Stormers skipper is expected to be fit for this weekend's showdown at Puma Stadium however.

Head coach Peter De Villiers did confirm that Burger's Stormers team-mate, Jaque Fourie, had been released from the squad along with Bulls midfielder Wynand Olivier and lock Danie Rossouw.

"Danie has played a lot of rugby in recent weeks and this is an opportunity to give him some recovery time," he said. "He is the first choice lock at the moment but are we not lucky to have Bakkies Botha available among the three locks that we can consider for the Test?

"Jaque and Wynand have also played a lot of rugby and we are so fortunate to have so many top centres to choose from too."

In the absence of Smit the leadership reins will pass to lock Victor Matfield, who took over in the second-half in Cape Town. De Villiers is confident that he will again step up to the plate.

"Victor is a great leader," he said. "He led the side when we won in Dunedin for the first time and he did a great job in the second-half against France. He has also proven himself many times as a leader in Super 14 and Currie Cup rugby."


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