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Du Preez set for bench duty

Mon, 12 Aug 2013 18:43
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No serious injuries
Quote-end

Fourie du Preez looks set to make his Springbok return off the bench in the Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Soweto on Saturday.

The veteran of 62 Tests has been called into the Springbok squad for the first time since the Springboks' quarterfinal defeat to Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

He was part of Heyneke Meyer's plans at the start of his tenure as Springbok coach last year, but Du Preez, who plays for Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath, felt he was not up to the task of playing for the national side.

Back after a year away from national duty, Du Preez looked reinvigorated on Monday. The World Cup winner ran with the replacements for most of the training session with Ulster-based Ruan Pienaar training alongside Morné Steyn, suggesting Du Preez is likely to return to the Test arena in the latter stages of Saturday’s opening encounter with the Pumas.  

Meyer heaped praise on Du Preez and welcomed the calming effect he brought to the team.

“I was very impressed with Fourie du Preez today [Monday], I always knew he was a world-class player and it's been an honour for me to coach him since he was 19-years-old,” Meyer said.

“You can see when a guy has class, he hasn’t lost anything. I know it was the first training session, but the small touches on the ball and the way he puts the forwards through the gaps was impressive. His kicking game is world class and you could see that in training as well. I always believe a quality player has a lot of time on the ball and he has that.

"I will make a decision only late on Tuesday, or early on Wednesday - because I need to make the right decision - but I’m very happy that I brought him in.

“You could see the way he spoke to the youngsters, guys like Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi. He brings a steady vibe to the team, so it’s great to have him there. We also have two other scrumhalves and we’re now in the fortunate position where we have great scrumhalves and anyone of them can start.”

Team doctor Craig Roberts had no serious injuries to report. Loosehead Tendai Mtawarira was the only slight concern while flank Marcell Coetzee is suffering from a bout of flu, but both forwards are expected to be fit.

“It's been a good week. The only carry-over from last week is Beast. He's got a mild hamstring strain,” Roberts said.

“He tweaked it at training last week, he had half training today and we are confident he'll be ready for the weekend. There are one or two guys with flu, but we’re happy with where the overseas guys are.”

Roberts added that tighthead Jannie du Plessis’ calf strain has responded well to treatment and that he should be available for selection.

“We nursed him through training last week and he went through his paces today and did everything we asked of him, so we’re happy with him.”

Meyer hinted that he would not make wholesale changes to the team that won the Incoming Series in June, as he would prefer to stick with continuity.

Turning his attention to Argentina, Meyer said the South American team would be an improved side from their debut appearance in the competition.

“They also want to play a more expansive game, so they will be a better side and they've adapted to the competition now,” he said.

“In the beginning of the year they gave a lot of their players off and had deals with the clubs where they can have their full team. They've been in training for three to four weeks, so they will be fresh and ready to go.”

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