Bok bruisers could sit out

2011-09-07 00:00

THE Springboks are likely to start without their two most physical, confrontational forwards, Bakkies Botha and Bismarck du Plessis, in Sunday’s bruising Rugby World Cup opener against Wales in Wellington.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers yesterday confirmed that veteran lock Botha, who has not practised this week because of injury, is a doubtful starter.

De Villiers has already said he regards captain John Smit “as the best hooker in the world”, which suggests that the competitive Bismarck du Plessis will be on the bench on Sunday.

De Villiers said yesterday that Botha was his only fitness concern and that Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn, who both travelled to New Zealand with injury, would be available for selection.

Botha is undergoing ongoing rehabilitation for an Achilles’ tendon injury and sat out training at Rugby League Park for the second day yesterday.

De Villiers said a decision on Botha’s fitness will be made shortly before the team’s announcement on Friday.

But, with the Springboks hoping to play in all seven games (four in their pool and three in the play-offs) in successfully defending their RWC title over the next two months, it is unlikely they will risk Botha in the opening game.

Danie Rossouw, another veteran of the 2007 World Cup triumph in France, is a ready-made replacement for Botha in the second-row with former Sharks captain and lock Johann Muller then the obvious selection on the bench.

Steyn and Lambie both practised with the Springboks yesterday without showing any discomfort.

Steyn strained a hamstring in the Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies in Durban last month, while Lambie suffered an AC joint strain in the Test against the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth a week later.

With flyhalf Morné Steyn again back in favour, Frans Steyn and Lambie are in contention for the fullback berth. The burly Steyn has the advantage of being able to boot the ball vast distances while playmaker Lambie, who could be used at flyhalf on attack, would add variety to the Springboks’ backplay.

But, with the Boks’ committed to a percentage game based on tactical kicking, Frans Steyn would appear to be De Villiers’s first choice fullback with Lambie possibly playing off the bench.

Vice-captain Victor Matfield and wing Bryan Habana are nursing niggles and trained on their own yesterday, but are expected to be fully fit for Sunday. In the absence of Matfield and Botha, the Boks scrummed with Muller and Rossouw in the second row.

“At the moment 29 players are fine. The only doubt is Bakkies Botha, who has Achilles tendonosis, which is a chronic problem and is being managed at the moment,” media manager Andy Colquhoun said yesterday.

“Everyone else is rehabbing and is fine for selection.”

Meanwhile, former Sharks and South African captain Gary Teichmann says the Boks could benefit from being in one of the most competitive pools at the World Cup.

In their preview of the seven likeliest sides to win RWC 2011, Britain’s Guardian newspaper chose Teichmann, the Boks’ first Tri-Nations winning skipper in 1998, to assess his own country’s chances.

Teichmann said there are certain factors in the Boks’ favour.

“First, they’re going in as underdogs. Second, they’re in a tough pool so they’ll have to consistently play their best team — that can either hurt by causing too many injuries, or make them a hardened team used to pressure when the knockout games come.

“They will play in a way that works for them; they’re not going to play open or expansive rugby, so that shouldn’t tire them out too much.

“They’ll certainly be in the semi-finals, from there it’s hit and miss.”

Sunday’s game against Wales kicks off at 10.30 am (SA time) and English referee Wayne Barnes will be in charge.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.