‘Boks got lot of things right’

2011-08-16 00:00

PAT Lambie, the Sharks’ 20-year-old utility back, will be included in the Springbok 22-man squad for the Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand in Port Elizabeth, while tall flank Juan Smith has been rushed back to Bloemfontein to play Currie Cup rugby this weekend.

Frans Steyn, who was at fullback for the Springboks against the Wallabies in Durban at the weekend, has been ruled out of the All Black international with a hamstring strain. Steyn will remain with the squad for his rehabilitation, and, one hopes, to work on his general conditioning.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers will name his team today and Lambie could either be promoted to start at fullback or play off the bench as back-up to Gio Aplon, who replaced Steyn in the second half at King’s Park.

Smith, who has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation on his injured Achilles in a race to be fit for the World Cup, was released from the Bok squad yesterday and travelled to Bloemfontein where he will prepare with the Cheetahs against the Pumas on Saturday afternoon.

Bok captain John Smit, who left the field on Saturday evening with an elbow injury, sat out training in Port Elizabeth yesterday, but conditioning coach Neels Liebel said it was because of flu.

Liebel said Smit’s elbow injury is not serious and he and Bakkies Botha, who is also struggling with a light bout of flu, should be ready to play against the All Blacks.

It is expected that Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who has seen just 30 minutes of live action in the past seven weeks, will start at hooker, with Smit having a break after playing in the last three Test matches.

If De Villiers is true to his word, then loose forward Willem Alberts, another player in desperate need of game time following his shoulder injury, will start against the All Blacks.

De Villiers said the players are looking forward to the Test in the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“It will be our first Test in Port Elizabeth in a number of years and the first time we’ll face New Zealand here since 1970. It’s going to be a big occasion and one we’re looking forward to,” said De Villiers.

“We weren’t happy with defeat against Australia last weekend, but we did a lot of things right in the Test — small things we’ve really been working hard on — and that was good to see. This weekend we have to be even better in our execution.”

• News24 reports that the All Blacks aim to gain a psychological edge over the Springboks in Port Elizabeth.

They will tackle the Boks without seven stalwarts in Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Mils Muliaina, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Kieran Read, and victory with a diluted team would provide them with a big mental boost over the Boks.

The two teams are seeded to meet in the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup.

“Of course it would help. If South Africa win here [with a weakened side], we will be in a strong position,” All Black lock Sam Whitelock said on the All Blacks’ arrival to a huge welcome in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.

Some of the juniors in their group also view the Test as an important chance to impress before coach Graham Henry names his World Cup group on August 23.

“I think this is a last chance,” said backline player Cory Jane.

“There will be a couple of nervous blokes. We still have a task at hand this week and we can’t worry too much if we’re going to make the World Cup squad or not. It’s on everyone’s minds, but first there’s a huge match this weekend.”

Whitelock also feels the Boks will be a “dangerous” side after their weekend defeat.

“They are playing in front of their own fans and want to rectify a few things,” said Whitelock.

Saturday’s Test kicks off at 5 pm.

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