Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bok Stevens Ready for Ex-Factor; Anxious Wait: England Captain Phil Vickery Could Miss Fridays Clash with South Africa after His Apparent Trip on USA Player Paul Emerick, Far Left, While Matt Stevens (near Left) Is Set to Replace Him

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bok Stevens Ready for Ex-Factor; Anxious Wait: England Captain Phil Vickery Could Miss Fridays Clash with South Africa after His Apparent Trip on USA Player Paul Emerick, Far Left, While Matt Stevens (near Left) Is Set to Replace Him

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

MATT STEVENS, the former Junior Springbok, is on standby to replace PhilVickery in Englands crunch match against the country of his birth on Friday.

With captain Vickery facing a possible four-week ban after being cited forkicking Americas Paul Emerick, Stevens is set to be thrust into the spotlightin what will be the biggest match of his life.

The props ties with the Republic are still so close he had to break off fromEnglands World Cup training camp to get his South African passport renewed backthere. He has dual nationality and his family run a game reserve and hotelbusiness in the rainbow nation.

Ten years ago, Stevens was a South Africa supporter in the Kings Park crowd inhis home town of Durban cheering on the Springboks in the decisive Second Testagainst the Lions.

Its been a quite amazing experience, said the 24-year-old. I was watching the1997 game with the guys at Kings Park and cheering for the Springboks. But Imalso not the first person born in South Africa to play for England. Mike Catt,for one, has done it before me.

Stevens played at Under-18 and Under-19 level for the Junior Springboks butqualifies for England through his grandfather. He joined the Bath Academy in2002, quickly winning Under-21 honours for his new country and a first capagainst New Zealand in 2004.

The 18st prop was called up as a replacement for Englands injury-hit tour ofSouth Africa in the summer, played in both warm-up games against France andtook over from captain Vickery in the 63rd minute on Saturday in Lens.

Now, Stevens has to prepare for a possible starting place in Paris, where hewould face the fearsome challenge of the great Springbok prop Os du Randt, whopacks down at 20st.

Although the South Africa link will make Stevens the focus of much attention inthe run-up to the match, he has been in the headlines before for very differentreasons. …

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