Injury crisis for bruised Boks

2013-06-11 00:00

THE Springboks face a minor scrumhalf crisis with Francois Hougaard yesterday joining his Bulls team-mate Jano Vermaak on the injury list.

Vermaak tore a hamstring during the Springboks’ 44-10 win over Italy in Durban at the weekend and yesterday Hougaard pulled up lame with a knee injury.

Coach Heyneke Meyer is certain to start with Ruan Pienaar, his first-choice scrumhalf, against Scotland in Nelspruit on Saturday with Cheetahs’ rookie Piet van Zyl, who joined the squad in Hazyview late on Sunday, playing off the bench.

Hougaard picked up the injury during Super Rugby and his knee flared up again during yesterday morning’s training session, forcing him out of the afternoon practice.

“Francois will go for scans and a specialist opinion in Pretoria to determine the exact extent of his injury,” Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said yesterday.

Meyer said they would wait on the medical report before deciding whether to call up his fifth-choice scrumhalf (after Pienaar, Vermaak, Hougaard and Van Zyl).

“We will not make any calls before we know exactly what the best plan is to manage Francois’ injury in the coming weeks.

“If it’s necessary, we will have to look at bringing in another scrumhalf into the squad. This decision will be taken later in the week.”

Sharks flank Willem Alberts, who withdraw from the Durban Test because of a stomach muscle strain, will face a fitness test later in the week.

“We have enough cover at loose forward so it won’t be necessary to call in any replacements,” said Meyer.

Roberts said there were no other injury concerns.

“We are also very happy with the progress shown by [Sharks hooker] Bismarck du Plessis, who has now played 240 minutes of club rugby and is looking very good on the training field,” he added.

Du Plessis could be eased back into the Springbok team off the bench on Saturday (kick-off 5.15 pm).

Scotland hooker Pat MacArthur has been ruled out of the remaining two weeks of the tour with a knee injury suffered during their loss to Samoa on Saturday. Several other players are still doubtful for the Bok Test following their bruising 27-17 defeat.

Saturday’s curtain-raiser at 2.15 pm sees Samoa play Italy.

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