Bekker out of Boks for five weeks

2012-05-31 00:00

NEW Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer took a heavy blow yesterday when his key lineout forward, the towering Andries Bekker, was ruled out for at least five weeks by a recurring back injury.

The loss of the 2,08-metre Bekker, a natural successor to veteran Victor Matfield, will leave the Springboks vulnerable in the second row when they face England in the three Tests next month.

Indeed, Meyer will be forced to field two rookie locks in the absence of Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and now Bekker who has been troubled by a sore back in recent seasons.

Bekker has developed a reputation for going missing when the going gets tough — as it was against the Sharks at King’s Park on Saturday night — but his height and expertise in the lineout is invaluable and Meyer has a major problem in a critical area.

The Bulls’ Juandré Kruger appears to be the leading challenger for the number five jersey with young Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth likely to join him in the second row against England.

The injury to Bekker is, of course, also a setback for the Stormers ahead of Saturday night’s north-south derby against the Bulls at Loftus.

De Kock Steenkamp will replace Bekker, while the South African U20 commitments of Steven Kits­hoff has resulted in the inclusion of former Sharks loosehead prop Deon Carstens in the injury-hit Stormers pack.

Frans Malherbe has been preferred at tighthead prop to Brok Harris while flank Siya Kolisi, a late withdrawal in Durban, returns for Deon Fourie.

In-form fullback Joe Pietersen has again failed a fitness test.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Deon Carstens.

Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Quinn Roux, 19 Don Armand, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Burton Francis.

See page 19 for the Bulls team

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