Bakkies out for three months with Achilles injury

2009-12-03 00:00

BULLS lock Bakkies Botha was yesterday confirmed as the first casualty of the Springboks’ ridiculously long rugby season and he will be out of rugby for three months with an Achilles tendon injury.

There was better news for his Springbok and Bulls lock partner, Victor Matfield, who was yesterday named captain of the South African-dominated British Barbarians team to face the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday. The Baa-Baas, coached by ex-Bok Nick Mallett, will field seven South Africans in the starting line-up and two more on the bench.

Botha, who missed Saturday’s Test against Ireland because of a sore back, now has an Achilles tendon injury and will undergo surgery tomorrow. Bulls doctor Org Strauss says the abrasive lock will miss the first month of the Super 14 and will only return to rugby next March.

Sports science guru Tim Noakes warned SA Rugby in October that senior Springbok players needed to be rested between seasons and overlooked for the annual November tour to Europe if they were not to break down in 2010.

He warned that the Springboks and the leading Super 14 teams, such as the Bulls and Sharks who are dominated by South African internationals, would also struggle next year because of player fatigue.

While a number of Springboks have complained of staleness, nine of them will be back in action at Twickenham on Saturday.

Current Italian coach Mallett, in charge of the Barbarians on Saturday, named Matfield as his captain and included fellow-Boks Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger and Bismarck du Plessis alongside him. Free State prop WP Nel is the traditional uncapped Test player in the starting line-up, while Morné Steyn and Beast Mtawarira are on the bench.

Matfield, tired and subdued against Ireland on Saturday in his worst game of the season, told reporters yesterday that he is looking forward to the chance of bringing down the All Blacks for a fourth time this year before taking a welcome break from the game.

The Boks, with Matfield playing a pivotal role, gained three successive wins over the All Blacks — twice at home and once in Hamilton — this year.

“It’s always nice to get another one over the All Blacks because you don’t get that very often,” said Matfield.

The All Blacks have enjoyed an excellent European tour, beating the Wallabies in Tokyo, Wales, Italy, England and France on their travels.

The Barbarians will face a diluted All Black team with coach Graham Henry resting a number of his senior players.

Richie McCaw, named IRB Player of the Year, will lead the second-string All Blacks side, and Dan Carter, Mils Muliaina, and Tony Woodcock are among those being rested. First-choice players Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata, Adam Thomson and Jimmy Cowan are on the bench.

TEAMS

Barbarians - 15 Drew Mitchell (Australia), 14 Joe Rokocoko (New Zealand), 13 Jaque Fourie (South Africa), 12 Jamie Roberts (Wales), 11 Bryan Habana (South Africa), 10 Matt Giteau (Australia), 9 Fourie du Preez (South Africa), 8 George Smith (Australia), 7 Schalk Burger (South Africa), 6 Rocky Elsom (Australia), 5 Victor Matfield (South Africa, captain), 4 Carlo del Fava (Italy), 3 WP Nel (Free State Cheetahs), 2 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), 1 Salvatore Perugini (Italy).

Subs: 16 Stephen Moore (Australia), 17 Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa), 18 Quintin Geldenhuys (Italy), 19 Andy Powell (Wales), 20 Will Genia (Australia), 21 Morné Steyn (South Africa), 22 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales).

New Zealand – 15 Cory Jane, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 John Afoa, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Adam Thomson, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Sitiveni Sivivatu.

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