No major injuries to report for Springboks

2013-09-10 00:00

WHILE the Springboks are unlikely to tamper with their match-winning squad for Saturday’s Rugby Championship international in Auckland, the All Blacks will make a couple of changes.

The Springboks emerged from their superb 38-12 win over the Wallabies in Brisbane in a buoyant mood and rude health, as team doctor Craig Roberts cheerfully pointed out yesterday.

“It’s not often that on a Monday I get to sit here and say there are no major problems to report,” Roberts said in Auckland yesterday.

He said there were a number of the expected minor niggles after a physical contest, but no one was in doubt for Saturday’s Test at Eden Park, one coach Heyneke Meyer has labelled “the ultimate rugby challenge”.

“Jannie [du Plessis] got a laceration to his lip early in the game, Bryan Habana got an accidental boot to the groin so he was a bit uncomfortable and JJ [Engelbrecht] has a corked thigh, a bruise, but nothing really to worry about,” said Roberts.

The team doctor said it was rare to travel the rugby world for internationals with so few injuries.

“Rugby is a serious collision sport and sometimes you are lucky and sometimes you’re unlucky,” Roberts said.

“I thought it was because of great coaching,” a smiling Meyer chipped in.

The only change that Meyer may consider is in the second row where Juandré Kruger, who came off the bench in the final quarter in Brisbane and was heavily involved, could replace Flip van der Merwe and add to the Boks’ lineout options.

Van der Merwe, a more physical player, helped the Springboks dominate the Wallabies for the first hour, but, on the downside, he concedes penalties in every Test.

Roberts said that the Springboks were again cutting back on their workload and they restricted yesterday’s training to a session in the pool and the gym.

The All Blacks will have a new flank and captain with Richie McCaw now sidelined by a knee injury. McCaw confirmed yesterday that he has suffered a grade two medial tear during the All Blacks’ 28-13 win over the Pumas. He will miss the next two Rugby Championships Tests at least, but hopes to be ready to face the Springboks at Ellis Park on October 6.

The 21-year-old Sam Cane will take over from McCaw, but the All Blacks, concerned at the impact the formidable Springbok backrow made in Brisbane, could also rush fit-again, hard-tackling Liam Messam back for Steven Luatua on the other side of the scrum.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has acknowledged the Springboks will present Sam Cane with the biggest challenge of his short nine-Test career.

“The way South Africa played on Saturday night, we realise we’re in for a huge challenge. It’s going to be a good challenge for Sam Cane and a real physical battle for the whole pack,” said McCaw.

Veteran centre Ma’a Nonu is over his injury and he seems certain to return for Francis Saili in the All Black midfield.

Saturday’s Test kicks off at 9.35 am (SA time).

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