Injury woes threaten squad to face Ireland

2009-11-24 00:00

THE Springboks, hit by a growing injury list which now includes eight players, yesterday cancelled their practice and have delayed announcing their Test team to face Ireland this weekend until Thursday.

Team doctor Craig Roberts said yesterday that while the medical team faced a busy week, none of the players has yet been ruled out of Saturday’s Test at Croke Park in Dublin.

“Zane Kirchner took a knock to the knee against Italy, Adi Jacobs turned over his ankle quite badly, and Fourie du Preez has a hand injury.”

Roberts said that both Bakkies Botha and Adriaan Strauss had minor back injuries which were not helped by the long flight to Dublin from Italy.

Players who missed the Italian Test because of injury, prop CJ van der Linde (hamstring) and hooker Bismarck du Plessis and flank Schalk Burger, who are both nursing rib cartilage injuries, will also have to prove their fitness later in the week, he added.

Roberts said that at this stage he was reluctant to speculate on which of the injured players could miss the Test, adding that the medical team would be working around the clock to ensure as many of the players as possible were available for selection.

The long list of injuries forced coach Peter de Villiers to concentrate yesterday’s preparations on a video and gym session.

De Villiers, who has clearly learnt from past brushes with the international press, played down the Irish media’s heated build-up to the Test. Irish weekend newspapers concentrated on the antagonism which resulted from Schalk Burger’s alleged eye-gouging incident during the British Lions tour and the refusal of the tourists to relax with the Boks after the Tests.

“The bad blood thing is something you guys in the media came up with,” De Villiers told the press conference. “We extend an invitation to every team after a game to come join us in the dressing room for a beer. The Lions never accepted. Maybe they don’t like South African beer,” he added.

The Test has been billed as a title match between the champions of the south (Tri-Nations winners South Africa) and the north (Six Nations title-holders Ireland) but, again, De Villiers dismissed talk of a grudge match and described it as another tough Test.

“The Irish have a great team and they have shown in the Six Nations this year how good they are. They have also had a good run of results recently.

“You could say the British Lions were the Irish in camouflage, but I think Ireland will be better than the Lions.

“But this Test is no different to any we have played so far this year and we are preparing for it in that way.”

He also said fatigue after a long year was a mental problem.

“If we want to be tired, we will be tired and if we want to play, we will play.”

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