Lambie tested at fullback

2011-07-27 00:00

THE Springbok injury toll is rising by the day and a number of Sharks players, among them Pat Lambie, Jean Deysel and Ryan Kankowski, seem certain to be rushed into action against the All Blacks in Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test in Wellington.

Lock forward Flip van der Merwe, flank Heinrich Brüssow and fullback Gio Aplon will miss the Wellington Test and Springbok coach Peter de Villiers barely has 22 fit players for Saturday’s 22-man Test squad.

Van der Merwe, who damaged a rib cartilage in Saturday’s Test against Australia, and Aplon are flying home from Sydney today while Brüssow, nursing a hamstring strain, has also been ruled out of contention.

The Free State flank and lock Johann Muller, who has already returned to SA, both travelled with injuries and failed to recover.

Brüssow will remain with the squad to continue his rehabilitation. De Villiers said that it was hoped he would be able to receive some game time for the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup against Western Province next Saturday.

Former Sharks lock Gerhard Mostert, who flew from Paris where he is now with Stade Francais, joined the squad on Sunday as a replacement for Muller. And that is just as well because second-rower Alistair Hargreaves is also being bothered by a chest injury.

The suggestion is that big Bulls utility forward Danie Rossouw will switch from flank to lock where he could join Mostert in the second-row and allow Hargreaves to nurse his wounds by playing off the bench. Deysel is an obvious and bruising replacement for Rossouw while Kankowski’s pace could also earn him a start in the backrow.

It was hoped that De Villiers would start with Lambie in flyhalf in place of the limited Morne Steyn but it seems that the versatile Sharks player will now take over from Aplon at fullback.

Aplon, the Boks’ most effective attacker against the Wallabies, did not train for a second day because of back and shoulder injuries and it was decided yesterday to send him home for treatment.

Lambie does provide a creative option at fullback but quite what De Villiers does about his ineffective midfield is less certain.

Kankowski, meanwhile, told reporters that he was surprised by a statement from Bok coach Peter de Villiers that captain John Smit did not have any leadership support on the field.

“Everybody supports each other on the field and you try and have a word with a team-mate whenever something goes wrong. We play for each other,” he said.

Kankowski is one of few Springboks in the squad who have beaten the All Blacks and believes it is possible again. “It’s always a big challenge, but it has been done. If we work hard and keep believing, we can manage it. Everybody wants to be involved in something special. We just need to believe in one another,” said Kankowski.

All Black coach Graham Henry, taking a small leaf out of De Villiers’s book, will rest four regulars on Saturday. Keven Mealamu (Blues), Kieran Read, Brad Thorn and Owen Franks (all Crusaders) will not play against the Springboks but it is unlikely to bring much relief for a Springbok squad now missing some 25 first-choice players, lacking in intensity and playing like a C team.

The Springboks travel to New Zealand today and, apparently, it will be like arriving in the KZN midlands with the Wellington area experiencing its worst snowfall in 15 years.

Alain Rolland, who refereed the World Cup Final in 2007, will handle the Test, which kicks off at 9.35 am (SA time).

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