South Africa will be without Jannie Du Plessis and Francois Louw when they face Argentina in Durban next Saturday, but the Springboks could have Jean De Villiers, Fourie Du Preez and Willem Alberts back while at this stage their medical team is optimistic of delivering a fully fit squad to the selectors for the Rugby World Cup, it was announced on Tuesday. De Villiers, Du Preez and Alberts are three of seven players whose fitness will be assessed on Monday as they complete the final phase of rehabilitation while players such as Duane Vermeulen and Coenie Oosthuizen are progressing well with their rehabilitation. Although Du Plessis (knee) and Louw (rotator cuff), along with Victor Matfield and JP Pietersen (both hamstring injuries) will miss both Tests against the Pumas, none of these injuries will put their RWC participation at risk. Saturday’s other injury victims, Vincent Koch and Warren Whiteley (rib cartilages) should be fit and available for selection next weekend.
Jan Serfontein (hip and knee), Marcell Coetzee (knee), Pieter-Steph Du Toit (knee) and Steven Kitshoff (knee) will also be assessed on Monday with a view to being available to selection against the Pumas. Frans Steyn is recovering well from a pectoral muscle injury and could be ready to play Argentina in Buenos Aires. Frans Malherbe has a bone bruise in the hip, which he picked up in the Brisbane Test.
He will consult a specialist in Cape Town and will also be re-assessed next week in Durban. Bok team doctor Craig Roberts says: ‘All of these players have worked hard during their rehabilitation and although we still have to put them through a final assessment on Monday after we’ve re-assembled in Durban, I’m hopeful that they should be fit to face Argentina in at least one of the two forthcoming Tests. We’re continuing to work very hard with Duane and Coenie and at this stage it’s looking very likely that we will have a full complement of players available for selection when the final squad for the Rugby World Cup is named at the end of August.’
Meyer said that the national selectors may have to consider possible cover at tight head if Koch and Malherbe are both ruled out of the Tests against Argentina: ‘We’ll have a look at Vincent and Frans in Durban and if they are not fit, we may have to bring someone in. It’s wonderful to see a number of players returning from injury and all of them will be considered if they are passed fit by our medical team. I’m also very glad Pieter-Steph is back. He was in the selection frame last week but after consultation between our medical team and that of the Cell C Sharks, we decided to stick to the original plan regarding his return to play, which is that he will turn out for his province in an Absa Currie Cup warm-up match on Friday. While it’s never ideal to lose experienced players to injury, it provides others with opportunities. We wanted to mix things up a bit in the two Tests against Argentina and the next players in line will now have to show they can perform at the highest level before we finalise the Rugby World Cup squad.’
Photo credit: Martin Myers