Out-of-favour fullback Steyn and injured right wing Pietersen and flanker Smith were named in a 29-man Springbok squad or Sunday for southern hemisphere championship Tests against New Zealand and Australia.

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Runaway leaders New Zealand face the defending champions on August 21 at Soccer City, the 90,000 stadium on the edge of Soweto where Spain defeated Netherlands last month to lift the World Cup.

And second-placed Australia will get to grips with the struggling Springboks the following two weekends, first at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and then Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

After a disastrous away leg to the annual championship in which they lost twice to the All Blacks and once to the Wallabies and failed to secure even one bonus point, South African rugby union critics hoped for a bold approach.

But coach Peter de Villiers was clearly not in a revolutionary mood as he fights to retain a job that will be on the line should the 2007 world champions suffer three consecutive home losses.

While De Villiers has received a public vote of confidence one year before New Zealand host the next World Cup, many officials areprivately fuming over the failure of the green-and-gold juggernaut to move beyond first gear.

Among those touted for a call-up was Sharks teenage sensation Patrick Lambie, who switched from fullback this weekend for a Currie Cup debut at fly-half that yielded 28 points against Golden Lions.

Recalling Steyn offers ammunition to the anti-De Villiers media lobby as the coach felt the fullback from Paris-based Racing Metro was not sharp when he faced Wales in mid-year just after the European season.

Now deep into his rest period, the former Shark is likely to be less fit than when he played in Cardiff although the exciting youngster who kicks the ball amazing distances is considered by most as a World Cup ‘must’.

Pietersen is unlikely to make a major difference if chosen against the All Blacks, who have also defeated Australia home and away and need one point to seal another Tri-Nations title.

But world-class loose forward Smith has been sorely missed, as has still injured ‘fetcher’ Heinrich Brussow, and should bolster a team led by hooker John Smit, who will reach the 100-cap mark against New Zealand.

Although included in a squad that will be trimmed to 24 on August 13 after a four-day Johannesburg training camp, centre Jaque Fourie cannot face the All Blacks because of a suspension.

Squad

Backs: Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Ricky Januarie, Butch James, Zane Kirchner, Wynand Olivier, JP Pietersen, Francois Steyn, Morne Steyn

Forwards: John Smit (capt), BJ Botha, Schalk Burger, Jannie du Plessis, Ryan Kankowski, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Tendai Mtawarira, Dewald Potgieter, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Danie Rossouw, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies, Gurthro Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Flipvan der Merwe