Boks will 'manage' injured Steyn
Mon, 02 Jun 2014 19:28
He has a chronic problem
With injuries continuing to ravage the Springboks' backline resources, managing injured players have become a top priority.
The loss of Stormers utility back Damian de Allende - to a grade two medial, collateral knee ligament injury in the Super Rugby win over the Sharks in Durban at the weekend - comes in the wake of the affliction of captain Jean de Villiers and fellow World Cup-winner Jaque Fourie.
With De Allende ruled out for four to six weeks - which puts him out of all the June Tests - the midfield resources appear paper thin.
The specialist centres are Juan de Jongh and Jan Serfontein.
JJ Engelbrecht could also fit into this category, even though he is equally at home on the wing. Sibusiso Sithole (primary a wing), Frans Steyn (playing mostly at flyhalf this season) and JP Pietersen (a wing) are more than adequate in midfield.
But the Boks feel it is best to "manage" Steyn's workload ahead of the season-opening Test against a World XV at Newlands on Saturday.
Bok team doctor Craig Roberts, speaking at the team's base in Cape Town, said that they have followed the same regimen that the Sharks employed to deal with the utility back's chronic knee condition.
"We have ben talking to them [the Sharks] a lot in terms of how they've been managing him," Roberts said, when asked by rugby365 about the condition that prevents Steyn from training on Mondays and Tuesdays.
"He obviously has a chronic problem with his knee, where there is a bit of cartilage missing," the doctor said, adding: "Every now and then, when he does too much, particularly too much kicking, his knee swells up and it flares up."
The team's medical officer said it is all about managing his workload during the week and controlling the volume of training he does.
"He can play 80 minutes, we just have to make sure his load is managed," Roberts said.
Steyn is available to play against the World XV on Saturday, should coach Heyneke Meyer opt to select him.
The doctor said, just as they managed him at the training camp in Durban last week at the request of the Sharks, so they will continue to manage him this week.
Roberts said the problem will not get worse if it is managed properly.
"It is related to the amount of fluid that builds up in his knee - it is something he has had for a long time," the doctor said.
"He has had surgery on that knee on a few occasions. It is about looking after the player and making sure he can perform at the weekend."
While rest in the off-season always helps, because Steyn can do some conditioning and work on the muscle strength around the knee to help protect it, surgery won't improve the condition.
"It is something he will have to manage for the rest of his career," he said of the right knee, which takes a massive load through the player's kicking duties.
"It is the kicking that flares it up - he can kick perfectly during the game, it is just volume during training."
The doctor said Schalk Burger should also be available for Saturday, despite continuing to battle a facet joint injury in the neck.
"He was a lot better today [Monday] than he was last week and it does take time. We kept him out of the contact part of training today [Monday]. He is settling down nicely and should be fine for the weekend."
By Jan de Koning
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