Beast in doubt, but coach has other worries

2010-11-23 00:00

LOOSEHEAD prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira could miss Saturday’s Test against England at Twickenham because of injury, but it is coach Peter de Villiers’s selection at flyhalf that could signal a switch in direction for the Springboks.

Mtawarira sat out Springbok training yesterday following a knee injury suffered during the weekend defeat by Scotland.

Team doctor Craig Roberts said yesterday that Mtawarira suffered a mild medial knee ligament strain at Murrayfield and was rested from training. A decision on his fitness for the Twickenham Test will be made later in the week.

Scrum coach, former Test loosehead Os du Randt, said the Springboks could choose between the experience of veteran CJ van der Linde or Free State rookie Coenie Oosthuizen if Mtawarira is withdrawn.

“CJ van der Linde covers both prop positions and we have Coenie Oosthuizen who has been making his way as a loosehead,” said Du Randt.

“Coenie was a tighthead at school, and has the ability to play there in the future, but for now it’s better to phase him in as a loosehead, where he made his senior debut as a 19-year-old. He has the talent and the ability to play for the Springboks for a long time,” said Du Randt.

There is mounting pressure on De Villiers to embrace the modern game with a ball-in-the-hand approach and a running, passing flyhalf in Pat Lambie instead of goal-kicking ace Morne Steyn. But with snow and rain forecast for later in the week and De Villiers desperate for a win after the humbling Edinburgh defeat, the Bok coach is likely to select conservatively.

Du Randt said the Springboks will take a leaf out of the Scottish book.

“The Scots used their defeat by the All Blacks to motivate them against us. We can use the disappointments of Saturday in the same way.

“Our aim is finish the season’s Test match programme on a high and we have that opportunity on Saturday.”

The squad trained yesterday morning with 29 players following the arrival of several needed replacements — Sharks scrumhalf Charl McLeod (scrumhalf), wing Odwa Ndungane and hooker Bandise Maku.

The team for Saturday’s Test will be named today. It is expected that number eight Pierre Spies, who was impressive against both Ireland and Wales, will return, but two other Blue Bulls players, fullback Zane Kirchner and flank Deon Stegmann, have had disappointing tours and could be dropped.

The Test kicks off at 4.30 pm on Saturday.

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