Boks must ‘grow a pair’

2013-09-06 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Former champion car racer Sarel van der Merwe said the Boks must just grow a pair and not use jet lag as an excuse.

This after several experts have virtually prepared the ground for defeat against the Wallabies at tomorrow’s Test in Brisbane.

“SuperVan” told The Witness that between 1984 and 1990 he raced professionally on three different continents for 42 weekends every year.

“I would get out of the plane, strap into the car and start racing. When not on a track, I was either in the air or waiting at an airport,” he said, but stressed that he could not afford to let jet lag affect his reflexes — not while averaging 200 km/h around a strange track in a new car at night.

In his biography, SuperVan and I, he wrote “It annoys me when I listen to some player roll out the inevitable, ‘no, we lost because it’s been a draining tour and we were jetlagged’.” He said it was the job of professional athletes to compete as best they could and they should just get on with doing this job.

The Boks flew from Johannesburg to Sydney on Sunday and then caught another plane to Brisbane, where they will play against the Wallabies tomorrow.

Juandré Kruger, Jano Vermaak, Morné Steyn, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Bryan Habana flew in from Paris to join the rest of the Boks in Brisbane.

The effects of jet lag have been cited as among the reasons why the Boks last won a Test at the Suncorp stadium in Brisbane in 1971.

Dr Jeroen Swart of the South African Institute for Sport Science at the University of Cape Town had earlier said jet lag blunted a player’s handling skills, his ability to take decisions quickly and as his reflexes.

It takes a person on average 10 to 12 days to recover from jet lag, Swart said.

Professor Tim Noakes, also from the institute in Newlands, said the Springboks are a better team than the Wallabies, but jet lag will have a major impact on tomorrow’s Test.

Elementary ball handling skills suffer first when a player has jet lag, Noakes said. He said the coaches knew what to do to combat the worst effects of jet lag, but the effects would still linger for 10 to 12 days. Without enough rest, the body cannot recover completely, he said.

Noakes added athletes should take in more protein and less carbohydrates to combat jet lag.

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