Kanko, Johnson called up

2011-08-09 00:00

INJURIES continue to plague the Springboks in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup and two backrowers, the Sharks’ Ryan Kankwoski and Free Stater Ashley Johnson, were yesterday rushed into Peter de Villiers’ squad.

The Springboks have suffered a string of injuries to their loose forwards and yesterday Danie Rossouw and Pierre Spies joined Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Willem Alberts on the sidelines.

Cheetahs flank Heinrich Brüssow, who has been sidelined for most of the past year, was added to the squad on Sunday.

Rossouw joined the squad 24 hours late yesterday after suffering a bout of gastroenteritis. Team doctor Craig Roberts said the player would be monitored during the week before a decision on his fitness was made.

Spies is continuing his rehabilitation from a groin injury and he was unable to train yesterday.

De Villiers is still hoping that Alberts, sidelined for the past seven weeks with a shoulder problem, might be available for the weekend, but he did not train yesterday because of back stiffness.

Johnson made his Test debut against Australia in Sydney last month and played for the Cheetahs against Western Province on Saturday, while Kankowski played off the bench for the Sharks against Griquas on Friday night and made little impact when he took the field in the second half.

“The majority of the players on the injured list are now recovered although there are some niggles that still need management,” said De Villiers said yesterday.

“But we also have a number of short-term issues among the loose forwards that are complicating planning for Saturday.”

The Springbok team for the match will be named today and all the fit senior players, who have not played since their Super Rugby competition ended late in June, will return.

Meanwhile, former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones, who played an influential role in the Boks winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup in Paris, yesterday criticised De Villiers for playing Pat Lambie at flyhalf against the All Blacks and then leaving him out of the squad for the home leg of the Tri-Nations.

While Lambie is not in De Villiers’ current squad, he is considered a near-certainty to earn selection for the RWC, but that is not enough for Jones.

De Villiers labelled Lambie “the future of Springbok rugby” before the Springbok Test against the All Blacks in Wellington, and Jones agrees.

Jones told News24 that the player has been treated unfairly.

“I can’t work out why the Boks dropped Pat Lambie. For me Lambie looks more like a 15 [fullback] at this stage of his career. He’s definitely not a 10 at this point in his development. To play him at 10 behind a weakened pack against the All Blacks away, and then leave him out [for the Tri-Nations at home] is a bit harsh for me.”

Jones believes Lambie’s exciting attacking talents could be best utilised if he was given more space to run the ball and said that the Bok management would be making a mistake if they left him out of their World Cup squad selection.

“He could start at 15 in this World Cup and the next and do very well for the Boks. He reminds me of Kurtley Beale in many ways — who also started his career at 10 but was exposed a little there. They’re both instinctive runners from the back and are dangerous. I’d definitely have Lambie in my 30-man World Cup squad.”

Looking ahead against the Boks Test against the Wallabies in Durban, Jones fired a warning to the Springboks:

“Australian sides traditionally play well after a loss. They very rarely play two bad Tests consecutively — that’s part of their mentality.”

“The first 20 minutes will be key, and Australia will be very physical. They’ll be up for it after being embarrassed by the All Blacks.”

“The gain line battle will decide the result. If the Boks aren’t on top of their game, they could be in for a long day.”

Saturday’s Test kicks off at 5.05 pm at King’s Park.

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