Boks to rest over Currie Cup?

2010-01-19 00:00

THE overworked Springbok players will be rested for long periods this year and there is a possibility they will be prevented from playing in the Currie Cup to help prepare them for next year’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) in New Zealand.

The Super 14 coaches have all agreed to manage their senior players to help Springbok coach Peter de Villiers prepare his squad for the 2011 RWC.

Player fatigue, highlighted by sports science guru Tim Noakes ahead of the Bok European tour late last year, is a major problem as an ageing Springbok squad prepares to defend its title in New Zealand.

The core of the Springbok team should be withdrawn from this year’s Currie Cup and end-of-year tour, Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said yesterday.

“If I were Peter de Villiers, I would request that Springboks be withdrawn from the Currie Cup and possibly also the end-of-year tour. They are not tired during the Super14,” Drotské told News24.

Cynics might suggest that this would suit Drotské, who has only two Boks (Heinrich Brussow and Juan Smith) in his Free State team, but it appears that others agree.

Springbok conditioning coach Neels Liebel told reporters that contracted Springbok players can be rested for this year’s Currie Cup.

He pointed out that captain John Smit played 28 games (12 Tests, 13 in the Super 14 and three Currie Cup matches) while Fourie du Preez (30), Brussow (31) and Morné Steyn (32) were also over-exploited in 2009.

Most of the contracted Boks play for the Sharks, the Bulls and Western Province and all three provincial coaches have agreed to rest players when necessary.

“We are planning to pull the 26 contracted players out of the Currie Cup this year,” Liebel told reporters. “These players will play against Ireland in November, but probably not for the rest of the tour. They will go on a strict conditioning programme ahead of the 2011 Super 15 and will only feature for half of the 2011 Tri-Nations.”

Sharks coach John Plumtree said he is open to suggestions to rest certain players, but there are other considerations. “It makes it much easier if you have depth. But my experience is also that players prefer to play. New Zealand learnt some hard lessons by removing players from the Super 14 ahead of the 2007 RWC,” said Plumtree.

New Zealand’s decision to take the All Blacks out of the 2007 Super14 backfired, and Crusaders coach Robbie Deans said this was one of the reasons for the Boks’ success, as they piggybacked on the success of the Bulls and Sharks.

By contrast, Jake White took a second-string squad on the Tri-Nations tour that year to rest his senior Boks for the RWC and retuned with the title.

Both Stormers and Bulls coaches said they will play ball with De Villiers.

“We support Peter and I have a good relationship with him. I’m sure we’ll have a good discussion about how players should be managed. We see the bigger picture,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke told News24.

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