Up to nine injured players could be back in contention this week as the Springboks resumed their Rugby Championship campaign in Durban on Monday. Team doctor Craig Roberts is optimistic that Jean De Villiers, Jan Serfontein, Fourie Du Preez, Willem Alberts and Pieter-Steph Du Toit could all be considered for selection for the first time this season. Marcell Coetzee (knee), Warren Whiteley (rib cartilage), Vincent Koch (rib cartilage) and Frans Malherbe (hip) will be assessed over the next 48 hours before South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer names his team to face Argentina on Wednesday.
Decisions will also have to be made on the availability of Trevor Nyakane (lower back) and Handré Pollard (concussion), who have presented symptoms subsequent to the match against New Zealand. Victor Matfield (hamstring), JP Pietersen (hamstring), Francois Louw (shoulder) and Jannie Du Plessis (knee) will not be considered for selection, while Coenie Oosthuizen and Duane Vermeulen will continue with their rehabilitation from long-term injuries. Roberts says: ‘We’ll see how Jean, Jan, Fourie, Willem and Pieter-Steph go in training on Tuesday but all of them took full part in our morning session on Monday and came through very well. Jean has had two games for DHL Western Province where he played 140 minutes and Pieter-Steph played 40 minutes for the Cell C Sharks on Friday, and we’re very happy with their progress and grateful for their provinces assisting with their rehabilitation. Things are also looking positive for Marcell and Warren, but with Vincent and Frans we’ll have to see how they go in a scrum session. There is a good chance that at least one of them would be available this weekend. Trevor had a bit of pain in his lower back this morning so we pulled him from the training session. Handré also didn’t train – although he passed the head injury assessments during and straight after the Test against New Zealand, he reported symptoms in his follow-up test 48 hours later which confirmed a delayed concussion. He will need to follow the standard return to play protocol before being cleared for selection.’
Frans Steyn, who is also recovering from a long-term injury, was released from the squad with immediate effect following the death of his brother on Monday morning. Bok team manager Ian Schwartz says: ‘Frans informed me straight after our morning session on Monday and as soon as he heard the sad and tragic news that his brother had passed away. We will not take any decisions on his immediate involvement with the squad – his personal situation is now the most important and we will support him and his family wherever we can in this very difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with Frans and his entire family in this time of mourning.’