Possible place for Burden in Bok squad

2012-09-04 00:00

SHARKS hooker Craig Burden could find himself in the Springbok match squad of 22 for Saturday’s Rugby Championship international against the Wallabies in Perth.

Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss, who started against Argentina in place of the injured Bismarck du Plessis in Mendoza, damaged knee ligaments in the drawn international and he faces a fitness test later in the week.

Western Province hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, who had just five minutes of rugby against the Pumas, will take over if Strauss is ruled out with Burden included on the bench.

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, during his usual injury update in Perth yesterday, said Strauss’s mild ligament knee sprain was the only major concern.

“He will do some straight line running in the morning and if he is comfortable we will continue to assess him during the week and then make a call on his availability. Otherwise I’m happy to report we have a fit squad and are ready to go,” he said.

The loss of Strauss, who was the vice-captain against the Pumas, following the injuries of pack leader Du Plessis and Chiliboy Ralepelle, has left the Boks short of hookers and leaders up front.

Coach Heyneke Meyer said he “had trust” in the 30-year-old Liebenberg, who was an experienced Super Rugby hooker, but he was concerned about a shortage of leaders among the forwards.

“It’s not just about the individual player; it is also about the leadership that they bring. I was very happy with the way Bismarck progressed as a leader. I actually see him as a future Bok captain while Adriaan is also a great leader.

“In our forward pack there are a lot of guys that haven’t been in a leadership role or been a captain of their province.”

Bath flank Francois Louw joined the Bok team in Perth yesterday after a long flight from London.

While he has obviously not practised with the Bok squad this season, Meyer hinted that Louw could be included on the bench to provide cover as an open side flank.

“Louw has done well for Bath and has played plenty of Super Rugby so he brings experience to our squad which is a bonus.

“We have looked at the tapes of the recent All Black-Wallaby Tests and there is a lot of competing on the ground so we have to be more effective in that area. I want the option of a specialist opensider, maybe on the bench.

“Northern hemisphere refs are normally a bit more lenient at the breakdown and I want us to be covered there …

“Our problem against Argentina was not just taking the opposition’s ball at the breakdown; it was protecting our own ball at the breakdown and that is not just the openside’s role — that is the whole team’s responsibility.”

Meyer is also considering making a change at scrumhalf, switching the elusive Francois Hougaard to the wing and including former Shark Ruan Pienaar at the base of the scrum in an attempt to bring some slickness to the backplay.

“I’ve always said that we will have a horses-for-courses attitude,” Meyer told reporters.

“Hougaard gives you something different on the wing, while Ruan is a little bit more experienced and he has a brilliant kicking game, so he can take some of the pressure off [flyhalf] Morné Steyn.

“It is not a definite thing but we are looking at that option.”

The Test kicks off at 12.35 pm.

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