I’m sure it will be a help to Jean
Bath coach Gary Gold has backed Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s selection of European-based players for the year-end internationals.
Meyer on Sunday included Bath flank Francois Louw, Ulster utility back Ruan Pienaa, hooker Schalk Brits of London-based Saracens and Toulouse's Springbok prop Gurthrö Steenkamp in his 31-man squad. He also placed Wasps lock Marco Wentzel on standby.
Former Springbok assistant coach Gold says having European-based players in the squad is a smart move by Meyer and will help skipper Jean de Villiers, whose young squad are yet to secure a win away from home.
“Having guys like Francois and Schalk will help a lot of younger guys on the tour because of their experience,” Gold told rugby365 on Wednesday.
“They know the northern hemisphere and the players here. I’m sure it will be a help to Jean.”
Gold added that while Louw, who damaged a joint in his neck during Bath’s 23-15 win over Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, remains a doubt for Bath’s Premiership match with London Welsh on Sunday, he should be fit for South Africa’s Tests against Ireland, Scotland and England.
Tests by Bath’s medical team have shown that Louw has not suffered disc damage, although he remains in pain.
“Francois is struggling,” Gold said. “It’s going to be touch and go [for this weekend].
“We will review the situation on Friday morning. He is in a lot of pain and a bit stiff. His neck hasn’t healed as quickly as we would have liked.
“I haven’t spoken to anybody at the Springboks but I think he will be fine to play for them.”
By Tom Bradshaw
Bradshaw is a freelance sports writer and broadcaster based in Gloucestershire, England, specialising in rugby union. Follow him on Twitter @TomBradshaw1979