Boks sweating over big Flip

Mon, 23 Sep 2013 13:36
Flip-van-der-merwe-tape Bryanhabanajjengelbrechtboks Flip-van-der-merwe-boks-bal Gurthro-steenkamp-stretches
Goosen may be available for the end of the year tour

Burly lock Flip van der Merwe is the biggest concern for South Africa ahead of their crucial Rugby Championship encounter with Australia in Cape Town on Saturday.

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts revealed on Monday, at the start of the team's build-up to the Newlands showdown,. that three players are struggling with small niggles left over from the controversial loss to the All Blacks in the last round.

Van der Merwe has a gluteal muscle strain and didn't train on Monday, but will work his way back to fitness.

"We feel he'll be ready for the weekend, but we have to get him through his final rehabilitation phase," Roberts said.

The Bok coach, Heyneke Meyer, admitted he was "particularly concerned" about van der Merwe.

"A gluteal injury is always a risk," Meyer said.

Centre JJ Engelbrecht is also still the after-effects of a nasty knock to the leg muscle in that game against the All Blacks.

"He is still a little bit sore and did part of the training today [Monday]," the team doctor said, adding: "We are happy how he did today and we'll build him up during the week."

Veteran prop Gurthrö Steenkamp has a grade one AC joint sprain he picked up against the All Blacks.

"He did all the training except the contact and should be fine as well for the weekend," Roberts said.

"We'll make a decision on their availability later in the week," he added.

The team doctor added that new additions to the squad - lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and centre Juan de Jongh - are fine, having come through the past weekend's Currie Cup games without problems.

Bok skipper Jean de Villiers is struggling with a haematoma, following the ugly late shoulder charge by All Black Ma'a Nonu in the last game.

However, the medical staff is confident he should also be fit.

"Jean knows how to manage his body," Roberts said, adding: "He is doing well at the moment."

Meyer was full of praise for the work done off the field.

"Our medical team has worked miracles so far and they have raised [captain] Jean [de Villiers] from the dead on a couple of occasions," the Bok coach said.

"I have confidence that they will pull [the players] through, but it is not ideal preparations."

Roberts revealed that injured centre Frans Steyn [leg surgery for a compact injury in May] is a little bit behind where they had hoped he would be at this stage.

"We were told he is still a couple of weeks off," Roberts said of the 2007 World Cup winner.

Flyhalf Johan Goosen may be available for the end of the year tour, after damaging his knee in a freak training ground accident on the Australasian leg of their tour.

"It is a decision we will have to make," Roberts said of the young No.10, adding: "He needs some game time before we can consider him for the end of year tour."

By Jan de Koning, from the Bok camp