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Bakkies set for Bok comeback

Mon, 10 Sep 2012 08:30
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We keep in touch with all the overseas-based players
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French-based World Cup-winning veteran lock Bakkies Botha is set to join the Springboks in New Zealand.

South African coach Heyneke Meyer told a media conference in Auckland that Botha has been placed on stand-by in case lock Eben Etzebeth loses his disciplinary hearing, and with confirmation that the 20-year-old Stormers player has been handed a two-week suspension Botha is likely to join up with the squad in New Zealand.

The 32-year-old Botha, who flew home early from the World Cup last year after playing only a bit-part as a result of a long-standing Achilles injury, has made 76 appearances for his country - a world record 62 of those as Victor Matfield's second row partner.

He joined French club Toulon after the World Cup.

“Bakkies is on stand-by,” Meyer told a news conference.

“We are in contact with Bakkies. We keep in touch with all the overseas-based players.

"The guys know who is on stand-by and exactly where they stand,” he added.

Meyer clarified that Botha will not be considered to start against the All Blacks.

Flip van der Merwe and Andries Bekker - who didn't start in Perth - are the locking options, along with Juandré Kruger, who did start against the Australians.

* Meanwhile Boks are sweating on the fitness on two of their props ahead of their Rugby Championship Test against competition leaders the All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday.

Jannie du Plessis, who started the 26-19 defeat to the Wallabies in Perth, tweaked a hamstring, while replacement Pat Cilliers has an elbow problem.

While the pair would continue to be monitored over their availability, a decision would be made on Tuesday about whether to call for back-up.

Meyer says the injuries to du Plessis and Cilliers are a particular concern as they're both tighthead props.

"We do have Dean Greyling on the bench, but he is mainly a loosehead, and New Zealand has probably the best scrum in world rugby at the moment," he said in Auckland on Monday.

The news was better concerning winger Bryan Habana, who went off in the second half against Australia after twisting an ankle.

Team management are confident Habana will be right by the weekend.

Meyer was fulsome in his praise of the All Blacks, describing them a side with no weaknesses.

While the All Blacks themselves might not be totally satisfied with their performances in the tournament so far, Meyer said they were still good enough to put 20 points on any opposition, even when not at their peak.

"What makes them a quality team is that, the days they don't get it 100 per cent right, they still win games, and I think they can play any sort of game," he said.

"Against Australia, the first game, they took it wide and found space out wide, and the second Test, they came back with switches."

However, the Springboks would head to Dunedin on Thursday believing they can topple the All Blacks.

"If you go in there with a negative mindset and try to keep the score down, you'll never grow as a team," he said.

"We will definitely go out there and try to play positive."

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