Boks coach sweats over stars' match fitness
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus revealed that lack of game time could be a worrying factor as the Rugby Championship looms.
The Springboks have a long list of injury concerns ahead of the Rugby Championship which kicks off on July 20.
Lions’ Warren Whiteley and Bulls’ Lodewyk De Jager have been out of action for most of the Super Rugby season. The pair seem destined to miss the tournament due to injuries and health issues.
Other names recently added to injury list include the likes of Siyamthanda Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Damian Willemse [knee] and Eben Etzebeth [hand] – all sidelined between four to six weeks, respectively.
This is certainly not good news for any coach let alone Springboks mentor Erasmus, who only has five Test matches to prepare for the World Cup in Japan.
“Lood De Jager and Warren Whiteley are the only real concerns,” Erasmus told reporters at a press conference on Friday. “They probably out for the start of the Rugby Championship.
“While in terms of the other injured players, the only worry is that they would be lacking a bit of match fitness.
“However, the positive thing is that a lot of the players [like Siya Kolisi] will be fit for the first Test but game time will certainly be the problem [in July],”
Despite the numerous casualties, Erasmus commended the franchises for the manner in which they have managed their players.
Recently the Bulls were under loads of scrutiny for their decision to fly Handré Pollard more than 10 000 miles to New Zealand for their final tour match against Highlanders.
The initial plan was to rest Pollard for both matches in New Zealand – against the Blues and Highlanders – as per agreement between the national side and franchise.
However, given the precarious position, the Bulls found themselves in coach Pote Human has decided to bring in Pollard – which was highly recommended and applauded by Erasmus.
“That is an example of us [SA Rugby] working with the franchises to get the best result,” Erasmus said.
“The Bulls needed him to improve their chances of staying in the competition. It also suits our purposes in terms of Handré’s match fitness.
“If the Bulls get knocked out of the tournament, then he won’t play for six weeks leading up to the Rugby Championship,” Erasmus explained. “We want guys like Handré to be sharp going into that tournament,”
The Rugby Championship gets underway in July – with the Springboks’ first match coming against Australia on July 20.
While the Springboks’ World Cup campaign gets underway against the All Blacks on September 21.
By Leezil Hendricks