Injuries could force Meyer to rethink Boks’ flyhalf problem

2012-09-25 00:00

INJURIES to centre Frans Steyn and flyhalf Johan Goosen have disrupted the Springboks’ preparations for Saturday’s Rugby Championship international against the Wallabies at Loftus.

Steyn was on crutches yesterday after turning an ankle at the Boks’ morning training session while the 20-year-old Goosen, a popular choice to replace Morné Steyn at flyhalf, was nursing a bruised heel and only trained briefly.

Team doctor Craig Roberts said there were a number of niggles in the 30-man squad, but Frans Steyn was the major concern.

“He is the big disappointment after rolling his ankle in the first five minutes of our training session this morning,” Roberts said.

“We’ve taken him for X-rays and those are clear, but we will have to make a decision on his availability, depending on how he responds to treatment. We will make a call a little bit later. He is the one concern and we’re giving him every opportunity, so hopefully he will be ready tomorrow or Wednesday.”

Coach Heyneke Meyer has options in the squad if Steyn is forced to withdraw. The most obvious is to switch Jean de Villiers, who has spent most of his career at inside centre, from 13 to 12 with Juan de Jongh joining him in the midfield. Sharks supporters would however urge him to promote Pat Lambie off the bench and into the starting line-up at inside centre.

“Coenie [Oosthuizen] has general stiffness, which was expected after having not played for a while, Jacques Potgieter has a mild groin strain, which kept him out of training, and Lwazi [Mvovo] has a tight hamstring,” Roberts said.

“In terms of the guys who played overseas, two players are still struggling, Flip van der Merwe has a mild calf strain, so he didn’t train and Johan Goosen has a bruised heel, so we’re managing him too.”

Meyer said he was disappointed at having to practise without a full squad.

“I thought after a week off we could have a hard training session with all 30 players,” he said.

But Meyer said the players were more relaxed “so hopefully we play good rugby on Saturday”.

“We always play well at home. We don’t have a great record in this competition, but I’ve good a good feeling about this game. I’ve watched the game in Dunedin again and went through the game stats with the players and we were ahead in both possession and territory.”

Meyer also believes criticisms that the Boks are just a kick-and-chase team are unfounded.

“Believe it or not, we kicked seven kicks less than the All Blacks,” he said of the Dunedin Test.

While Meyer is expected to drop out-of-touch Morné Steyn for Goosen after the loss in Dunedin, yesterday’s injuries could result in a re-think.

Goosen only played a limited role at yesterday’s practice and, if centre Frans Steyn is sidelined, Meyer may be reluctant to also make a change at flyhalf, particularly as the Test is being played on Morné Steyn’s home ground.

Meyer yesterday refused to commit himself about any possible change at flyhalf.

“There has been a lot of criticism of Morné, but we are still working with a human being and, if you think you are going to throw a guy out and he is going to come back stronger, it won’t work,” he said.

“So it is great to have him in the group, especially since Johan Goosen is not 100% fit.

“I can already see that Morné is himself again being back at home,” said Meyer.

The Test kicks off at 5 pm on Saturday with Irish referee Alain Rolland taking charge.

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