Boks sweating over captain
Six players in the Springbok squad including captain Jean de Villiers took little or no part in training on Monday because of various injury niggles.
Six players in the Springbok squad took little or no part in training at Northwood School in Durban on Monday because of various injury niggles.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers (centre) did not train at all on Monday and is nursing a mild hamstring strain. A decision on his availability for Saturday’s Test against Italy at Kings Park will be taken later in the week.
JJ Engelbrecht (centre) picked up a contusion to his quad on Saturday and also sat out training, while Francois Louw (loose forward, quad strain) and Pierre Spies (No.8, groin) didn’t participate in the full field sessions on Monday.
“Francois is in the final phase of his rehab and we’re happy with his progress, but we will have another look at him on Tuesday. Pierre’s non-participation in the afternoon session was purely precautionary,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.
Another player who did not take part in the full session on Monday was lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who has been struggling for a couple of weeks with a sternum injury.
“We’re in the process of reviewing his scans and at this stage we’ve decided to keep him out of contact,” said Roberts.
Juan de Jongh (centre) is not available for selection for Saturday’s Test due to a finger fracture he sustained a few weeks ago.
“We always knew Juan was going to be touch and go this week and we took the decision today that he would not be considered for the Test against Italy, but we’re hoping to have him back next week in Nelspruit,” said Roberts.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said there was concern about the centre position, and particularly the captaincy.
De Villiers was forced off the field for the final 10 minutes of the Stormers' Super Rugby clash against the Southern Kings on Saturday.
"Obviously it's a concern. I'm especially concerned about the centre position, because suddenly there's three guys that can't train.
"But, we've got a good medical team and I'm hopeful Jean and JJ will be ready. You obviously want your captain there and the experience in as well."
With De Villiers struggling, it means there could be a completely inexperienced midfield against the Italians with 20-year-old Jan Serfontein the only fit centre, in line for his debut.
"Jean is a fighter and wants to play, but you don't want to push him," Meyer said.
"If I have to play Jan and JJ, I'll be happy with that. They know each other very well, but we'll give Jean all the time he needs."
Meyer said there were several candidates waiting in the wings to potentially stand in as skipper.
"Last year, I was really worried about the captaincy, but the group has grown in experience over the past 12 months," he said.
"We have Francois Louw, who's been captain at Bath. He's really impressed me.
"Pierre is captain at the Bulls, and playing his best rugby currently. Adriaan's [Strauss] been the vice-captain and he's leading from the front for the Cheetahs and a guy like Bismarck is also there. So we have a lot of guys that can come in."