Injured Andries Bekker ruled out for Test in Brisbane

2010-07-20 00:00

TOWERING lock forward Andries Bekker, suffering from a back injury, has been ruled out of Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

Bekker, who came off the bench for the last quarter of the weekend Test in Wellington, suffered an acute disc injury in the final moments.

He underwent an MRI scan in Brisbane yesterday and has been withdrawn by the medical team. He will see a specialist for treatment on his return to South Africa.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers described the injury to Bekker as “unfortunate” and said no replacement will be called up.

“It is a setback but we will have to deal with it. That is part of the game. We have to rely on the strength within our squad for the Test.

“It is a blow for Andries, too, as he was just coming back from a previous injury.”

Young Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe, a replacement on tour for the suspended Bakkies Botha, is expected to take over from Bekker on the bench.

The Boks have also lost Jean de Villiers to suspension, but the rest of the players are fit for Saturday, De Villiers said in Brisbane yesterday.

“Jean’s suspension definitely is a huge loss,” he said. “Jean was struggling to get back to his best form. He was busy getting there and we wanted to give him more game time on the wing. We were about to move him back to centre. This suspension has forced us into a new way of thinking,” he explained.

“I am so glad that we are only on tour for three weeks otherwise I could end up going home alone,” De Villiers jokingly remarked after it was announced that Bekker will join Jean de Villiers, the injured Jannie du Plessis and Botha on early flights home.

The Boks have lost seven successive Tests at the Brisbane venue, but need to win on Saturday to stay in contention for the Tri-Nations title.

De Villiers said the Wallabies will be technically stronger than the All Blacks.

“They analyse the opposition and make the most of any advantage.”

He said that Gio Aplon will probably replace De Villiers on the wing though Francois Hougaard is another option.

The Bok coach said the Test would be between one battered and bruised team — after two tough Tests — and the Wallabies, who have not played for four weeks and could be rusty.

“I think it is six of one and half-a-dozen of the other.”

Captain John Smit said that a win in Brisbane is non-negotiable.

“We have to get points in Brisbane. It’s as simple as that.

“It does not look good for us at the moment, especially when you consider that we don’t exactly have a good record in Brisbane. But we have no choice.

“We have a few weeks’ rest after this week, so we have to put our heads down and tackle this challenge. The tour is not yet a failure because we still have something to play for.”

Smit said the Boks are more positive than they had been after the Auckland defeat.

“We still lost, but at least there is something to talk about. The yellow card (Danie Rossouw) was in all probability an injustice and it had an enormous impact on the final result.”

The senior Boks were unanimous in criticising the role the referee played in the defeat.

“It was very frustrating to see one team get quick possession and the other not. And the game is played according to the same laws. It does not make sense,” said Smit.

Victor Matfield added that the All Blacks, and Richie McCaw in particular, were “untouchables and allowed to get away with murder”.

“I cannot say much about the ref [Alain Rolland], because I will get into trouble. But there were a few times on attack when we struggled to play because our ball was deliberately slowed down,” said Matfield.

Schalk Burger conceded the Boks were not good enough, and the points difference showed that.

He added, however, that the two yellow cards in both Tests forced the Boks to play catch-up rugby and they then battled when the All Blacks were able to frustrate them and slow up South African ball at the breakdowns.

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