Spies out, Keegan tipped for Boks

2012-08-15 00:00

SPRINGBOK number eight Pierre Spies has been ruled out of the Rugby Championships and Sharks captain Keegan Daniel seems certain to take his place against Argentina at Newlands on Saturday.

Spies injured his ring finger in the Super Rugby qualifier against the Crusaders last month and Bok team doctor Craig Roberts said yesterday initial X-rays did not reveal any significant damage.

“However, on further investigation and assessment by a hand specialist in Cape Town, it was found that Pierre had a fracture in the joint,” said Roberts.

Surgical correction is needed and Spies will be sidelined for between eight and 12 weeks.

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer said that no replacement would be named at this stage.

“We have faith in the players in the squad,” he said.

Daniel, who has played all three places in the backrow and has been a consistent performer for the Sharks, is expected to fill the number eight role.

Spies will join four other Springbok loose forwards who are also unavailable. Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brüssow are injured, while Ryan Kankowski is unavailable because of a club contract in Japan.

It is believed Meyer was considering finally dropping Spies for the in-form Kankowski who has been regularly overlooked at national level in recent seasons.

But there was confusion over the release clause in the Japanese contract and Kankowski was omitted from the Bok squad of 30.

The good news yesterday was that lock forward Eben Etzebeth took full part in training and he is expected to join Andries Bekker in the second row on Saturday.

The rest of the starting team picks itself, with three Sharks in the front-row, three more at loose forward — with Daniel joining team-mates Willem Alberts and Marcell Coetzee — and two Stormers locking the scrum.

Frans Steyn, married and settled in Durban, will return to join Jean de Villliers in midfield.

The powerful presence of JP Pietersen, one of the top performers in Super Rugby, will be missed, both on attack and defence.

Lwazi Mvovo is expected to replace his Sharks team-mate with the experienced Bryan Habana moving to the right wing to accommodate him on the left.

The limited Zane Kirchner is expected to be preferred to Pat Lambie at fullback.

Springbok forward coach Johann van Graan said yesterday Argentinia have embodied northern hemisphere-style rugby.

“They like to maul from lineouts, and they have several options as jumpers. In the past, the Boks had Fourie du Preez, who I rate as the best tactical kicker of all time, so [scrumhalf] Francois Hougaard has got big boots to fill,” he said.

LIKELY SPRINGBOKS TEAM

Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo, Morné Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira.

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