Warm greeting: Springboks lick wounds after opener

2012-08-22 00:00

THE Springboks knew they were in rugby country yesterday when more than a 1 000 spectators turned up to watch them practise in Mendoza, Argentina ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship international against the Pumas.

The Springboks trained in almost perfect conditions in front of the large crowd at the Chacras Rugby Club which lies close to the Andes Mountains.

“We are very honoured to have such a magnificent turn-out at our training session,” said Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer.

“It’s clear the people around these parts love their rugby and we’re excited to play in front of a sold out stadium on Saturday.

“It’s really humbling to see people from another country show their support like this. When one sees this, you realise how great it is that Argentina have been added to the Rugby Championship,” he added. 

The Boks are licking their wounds after the weekend’s opening game against the Pumas in Cape Town.

Hooker Bismarck du Plessis underwent knee surgery yesterday and could be out until March or April next year.

“The usual rehabilitation for Bismarck’s injury is up to eight months,” Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said yesterday.

Of immediate concern is the fitness of wing Bryan Habana and towering lock Andries Bekker, who both showed good form at Newlands, but are now nursing ankle injuries.

“At the moment we are managing them.

“They haven’t trained and we will make an assessment on their availability later in the week,” said Roberts.

Meyer said the Springboks had the depth to cover the injuries to senior players.

“It’s difficult to lose guys like Pierre Spies and JP Pietersen before a big tournament like this. Between them they have almost 100 Test caps. It will be a big blow if Bryan and Andries can’t play,” he said.

“But I think we have enough cover if we need it. There are some very good players coming forward and the only way they’ll gain experience is by playing. The nice thing is that we’re building our depth.”

The injury to Habana could open the door for Ruan Pienaar to return to the starting line-up at scrumhalf with Francois Hougaard switching to the wing.

Bekker, dogged by injury, would be missed, but Bulls lock Juandré Kruger proved a most capable replacement against England.

Keegan Daniel was relatively quiet on Saturday and he could find himself back on the bench in the only unforced change to the Springboks starting line-up.

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