Handle with care in World Cup year, say Bok staff

2011-01-27 00:00

THE Sharks, along with the four other South African franchises, had a productive meeting with Springbok coach Peter de Villiers this week ahead of the Super Rugby competition.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl and head coach John Plumtree attended the meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday when the management of key Springboks ahead of the World Cup was discussed.

“It was a fruitful meeting,” Van Zyl told The Witness yesterday. “The Springbok management requested that the franchises be sensitive to the demands of the long season and the welfare of the players.

“We have absolutely no problem with that. There is no way any team will be competitive in the long Super Rugby competition without rotating and resting key players and that is what we plan to do.”

Van Zyl said Bok management also wanted access to key national players during the Super Rugby tournament.

“There are three dates when they want some of the Springboks made available to them and, again, we are happy with that. The Bok coaches also want to visit the Sharks squad during the season and they are welcome,” said Van Zyl.

De Villiers and Andy Marinos, Saru’s manager of national teams, met Plumtree, Frans Ludeke (Bulls), Naka Drotske (Cheetahs), John Mitchell (Lions) and Allister Coetzee (Stormers) to discuss player management. Franchise CEOs and union presidents, as well as the Saru presidency, also attended the meeting.

The conditioning of the Springboks was the principal concern.

“Super Rugby is very important to our teams and our supporters and we understand the need to perform in the competition from a psychological point of view as well,” said De Villiers.

“The franchises are going into the unknown in some ways with four more South African derby matches added to the old Super Rugby schedule and that has changed the landscape for all our teams.

“But they all realise the importance of the Rugby World Cup — not just to the country — but to the individual players in their squads.”

The Super Rugby season kicks off on February 18 and runs until July 9.

The Springboks play their first Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies in Sydney two weeks later and the series concludes for the Boks three weeks before the first match of Rugby World Cup 2011.

“There is an intense season ahead for the players and it was important to get everyone on the same page,” said Marinos.

“We have discussed in broad terms what we believe would assist the Springbok cause.

“We will work in conjunction with the franchises on the medical and conditioning aspects and we will have access to the players depending on the teams’ playing schedules.”

The Springboks are due to announce their first squad of the year on July 9 and have to submit their final World Cup squad to the International Rugby Board on August 22.

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