Relief for All Blacks on Alberts

2014-08-30 00:00

THE Wallabies and All Blacks might be breathing a sigh of relief after Springbok flank Willem Alberts was ruled out of the Springbok squad due to injury late on Thursday.

Alberts, known as the “Bone Collector” for his bone-clattering hits, will not travel with the Springboks on their tour to Australasia and Lions eighth-

man and captain Warren Whiteley takes his place in the squad.

The burly flank has not featured for the Boks yet in the Rugby Championship. He has been struggling with a hamstring injury and although he has recovered well, he has since been bothered by a nerve irritation in his lower back.

“Willem requires further investigation of the symptoms and will see a number of specialists to determine the optimal management plan to get him back performing on the field as soon as possible,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.

Whiteley has been chosen to fill the void left by Alberts. The rangy number eight has been a revelation for the Lions this season and has also been a key part of the Blitsbokke in the past two years.

The Lions captain started his career in Durban after leaving Glenwood High School. However, he joined the Lions in 2010 and has gone from strength to strength. Bok coach Heyeneke Meyer sang the praises of the loose forward.

“Warren really impressed me last week. He’s been playing very well and it made sense to get him back in. Like Willem, he is very effective with ball in hand and also a great option at the back of the lineout,” Meyer said.

“More importantly, Warren is a natural number eight which is a position where we need cover, but he can play flank as well.”

Springbok and Toulon flank Juan Smith is also on standby but, by his own standards, deemed he needs more game time before playing for the Boks again.

“Juan has very high standards and he wasn’t happy with his performance in Salta,” said Meyer.

The Boks have spent two days in Johannesburg and will travel to Australia today for their two-match tour of Australia and New Zealand.

The Springboks play Australia in Perth on September 6 before taking on the All Blacks in Wellington on September 13.

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