Lodewyk gets Rassie's vote, if ...
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: Star lock Lodewyk de Jager will resume his Springbok career against Australia in South Africa’s Rugby Championship opener in Johannesburg next Saturday, July 20.
However, he first has another assignment to complete.
De Jager, 26, will make his return from injury when he runs out for the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup opener against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
It will be his first match in over four months, after undergoing shoulder surgery.
De Jager missed almost the entire Super Rugby season, after injuring his shoulder while playing for the Bulls against the Jaguares in March.
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus revealed that De Jager will start for the Boks against Australia in he comes through the Newlands derby unscathed.
Erasmus revealed last week that he will use the Currie Cup for players, who return from injury, to prove their fitness.
De Jager, weighing 122 kilograms and standing at 2.05 metres, is seen as a vital cog in the Springbok armoury heading into the Rugby Championship and the World Cup – with his strong running, line-out prowess and work off the ball.
Speaking to reporters in Pretoria on Thursday Erasmus said that De Jager will play against the Wallabies if he can prove that he is 100 percent match fit on Saturday.
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“He [De Jager] will play next week if he comes through the game,” Erasmus said, adding: “He will probably start against Australia.”
Erasmus will name the Bok team, that will do battle against Australia, next Wednesday.
Erasmus also repeated his plans for the Springboks’ opening matches of the Rugby Championship – against the Wallabies and All Blacks.
The Boks get their year underway when they host the Wallabies at Ellis Park next Saturday, before travelling to Wellington to tackle the All Blacks a week later.
A team of 15 players, which will be named next Wednesday, will travel to New Zealand and will be joined by the coaches and eight reserves, who will fly out on Saturday after the Wallabies game.
“The team already knows what it will look like,” Erasmus said.
Erasmus said splitting the squad – between the Australia and New Zealand matches – will not result in ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams, but two “competitive” teams.
“There are a few players, who you can say are streets ahead of the others,” the coach said.
“That is the nice thing at this stage. There are only four or five positions where you can say a player is clear-cut first choice and those players will go to New Zealand.
“We will be working really hard to beat Australia.
“After that match, on Saturday evening, the coaches plus eight reserves will fly out. The rest of the squad will fly on Sunday and arrive on Tuesday.”