Boks short of centres for Italy clash

2013-06-04 00:00

THE Springboks are running short of centres ahead of Saturday’s Test against Italy with captain Jean de Villiers among the three who watched yesterday’s training session from the sidelines.

Juan de Jongh (fractured finger) has already been ruled out of Saturday’s Test while De Villiers (hamstring twinge) and JJ Engelbrecht (bruised leg) also took no part in training at Northwood High School yesterday.

Springbok coach Heyenke Meyer admitted late yesterday that he was concerned about the run of midfield injuries and he has placed in-form Cheetahs’ centre Robert Ebersohn on stand-by.

Meyer said that Ebersohn had been unlucky to not to have been included in the original squad.

“Robert’s been awesome this year,” Meyer said. “He has had a really great season. He’s been great on the ground, specifically, and his technical skills have improved. As soon as we get clearance, we’ll have him in the squad.”

De Villiers left the field during the Stormers’ weekend game against the Southern Kings.

“I’m especially concerned about the centre position, because suddenly there are three guys that can’t train,” said Meyer.

“I’m hopeful Jean and JJ will be ready. You obviously want your captain there and the experience in as well.”

The 20-year-old rookie Jan Serfontein is the only fit centre in the squad.

“Jean [De Villiers] is a fighter and wants to play, but we don’t want to push him,” Meyer said. “If I have to play Jan and JJ, I’ll be happy with that. They know each other very well, but we’ll give Jean all the time he needs.”

He said he had a number of players who could take over the captaincy.

“We have Francois Louw, who’s been captain at Bath. He’s really impressed me.

“Pierre is captain at the Bulls, and he is now playing his best rugby. Adriaan’s [Strauss] been the vice-captain and he’s leading from the front for the Cheetahs.”

Francois Louw, number eight Pierre Spies and Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit are also nursing niggles and sat out training yesterday.

“We always knew Juan [De Jongh] was doubtful and we have now taken the decision not to play him against Italy,” team doctor Craig Roberts said yesterday. “We’re hoping to have him back next week in Nelspruit.”

Louw has returned from Bath with a quad strain.

“Francois [Louw] is in the final phase of his rehab and we’re happy with his progress,” said Roberts. “We will have another look at him in the morning.”

He said that the resting of Spies yesterday was precautionary.

Du Toit has been worried by a sternum injury in recent weeks.

“We’re in the process of reviewing his scans and at this stage we’ve decided to keep him out of contact,” said Roberts.

Meanwhile, discarded Sharks number eight Ryan Kankowski, who is considering a number of overseas options after falling out with coach John Plumtree, has been included in the Springbok sevens training squad for the Rugby World Cup Sevens. Sharks wing Sibusiso Sithole is also in Paul Treu’s squad.

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