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Will Rassie again have to make his own luck?

SPOTLIGHT: Being successful in the Test arena requires a certain amount of luck.

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You can be sure Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is hoping for that in abundance.

Injuries to key players have complicated the outlook for the upcoming international season.

As the Bok international calendar was finalised earlier this week, Erasmus moved to curtail the second alignment camp to an online meeting, while some potentially serious injury news may force him to change his plans somewhat.

The complicated and ever-changing United Rugby Championship bunfight for the top eight places is so tight that 11 teams can still make the top eight, including three South African franchises.

The fourth franchise – the Sharks – are going all out to win the Challenge Cup and thereby grab a place in next season’s Champions Cup through this route.

All of this has complicated the availability of players for planning ahead of the Ireland series, where the Boks will take on the Six Nations champions in a massive two weekends on the Test calendar.

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Now complicating that even more is the news of injuries, with Ulster announcing that Springbok loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff has sustained a season-ending knee injury.

With just a few rounds left of the URC and Ulster out of EPCR competitions, it is unclear what “season-ending” may mean, but it certainly is a concern ahead of the Bok Test season.

“Steven Kitshoff suffered a knee injury against Clermont in the Challenge Cup quarterfinal fixture and following a scan and specialist opinion it has been determined that unfortunately this is season- ending,” an injury update from the Northern Irish team said.

“He will travel back to South Africa this week, where he will see a knee specialist to decide on the required treatment plan.”

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Considering Kitshoff is very much part of the dominant Bok scrum, it would be a blow not to have him around in July, although with Ox Nche putting in some exceptional form, the Boks certainly do have cover there.

Trevor Nyakane and Vincent Koch can both swing to loosehead if needed while Gerhard Steenekamp has had an excellent season with the Bulls.

Then there is the eye socket injury to another World Cup winner in Jean Kleyn, who has received treatment in America, with Munster coach Graham Rowntree confirming he is out for the remainder of the season.

* For the @rugby365com interview with Rowntree, CLICK HERE!

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The third long-term injury is that of World Cup flank Marco van Staden, although that hasn’t been as serious as first thought with Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White saying that it is a matter of a few weeks before he returns.

Van Staden is likely to feature for the Bulls in the URC play-offs.

Another player that Rassie won’t be able to turn to is World Cup hero Deon Fourie, whose season-ending injury means his chances of making the Bok squad again diminished significantly, although the chances were anyway going to be slim.

So with the URC play-offs and Challenge Cup finales looming, as well as the latest injury news, you could be forgiven if Erasmus looks for a bit of luck through the storms.

Even if it is just to make the planning for the Test season a bit easier.

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