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Rookie relishing All Black clash

South Africa lock Flip van der Merwe is relishing the prospect of fulfilling a "lifelong dream" when he runs out for the Springboks against New Zealand in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The 25-year-old was handed his first start for his country when coach Peter de Villiers named his team for the Tri-Nations encounter earlier this week. The Bulls forward, whose three previous caps have all come as a substitute, will wear the number four jersey for the first time and line up alongside club captain Victor Matfield.

Van der Merwe told www.keo.co.za: "We're viewing this Saturday as a fresh start. For me it's been a lifelong dream to play the All Blacks, and I'm going to be giving it my all."

The former Under-19 international comes from a rugby playing family with his father Flippie having represented the Springboks six times during the 1980s.

He had an outstanding Super 14 campaign for the Bulls as cover for Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw, who struggled with injuries, eventually forcing his way into coach De Villiers' plans.

He continued: "It's an honour to be described in the same breath as Bakkies or Danie. But I also want to bring something of myself to the game as well."

After his elevation earlier this week, New Zealand assistant coach Steve Hansen tried to upset him by telling reporters that the Bulls player was prone to conceding a fair few penalties.

But Van der Merwe said: "I'm not really worried about (Hansen's) comments. Rugby's not ballet and the All Blacks can expect a fierce contest this Saturday."

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