Young Shark headed for Wales

2007-11-13 00:00

Kankowski, who turned 22 last month, was one of three players added to the Bok squad yesterday. The other two were Free State prop Wian du Preez and twice-capped Blue Bulls flank Hilton Lobberts.

The players were called up to replace the injured Danie Rossouw and Wikus van Heerden, both loose forwards, and prop Gurthro Steenkamp.

The World Cup champions face Wales at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on November 24 and then meet the Barbarians at Twickenham a week later.

The Boks will now tour without 11 of their initial World Cup squad with the other the eight either bashed, matched or dispatched.

The three other injured players are fullback Percy Montgomery, prop BJ Botha and centre Jean de Villiers; those who have linked up with overseas clubs are flyhalf Butch James, hooker Gary Botha and wing Ashwin Willemse while the remaining two, prop Os du Randt and number eight Bob Skinstad, have departed the rugby scene.

There was speculation that the world-class scrumhalf Fourie du Preez would also miss the trip. Du Preez was married last Saturday but it is an ongoing shoulder problem rather than his marital status which had placed his tour in jeopardy. Du Preez requires surgery on his shoulder but the news last night was that he would be fit to tour.

However, his Bulls captain, lock and lineout specialist Victor Matfield, is now having second thoughts about touring.

Matfield is apparently undecided about whether to join second division Toulon in France and he wants to spend time with his family before making a decision on his future. He was scheduled to meet Bok coach Jake White last night.

White will have to make at least four changes to his RWC final starting line-up for the Welsh Test - at fullback (Montgomery), flyhalf (James), number eight (Rossouw) and loosehead prop (Du Randt). He is likely to opt for specialists in each position with three of the recent additions to the World Cup squad, fullback Conrad Jantjes, number eight Kankowski and prop Van der Merwe, going straight into the starting line-up and Andre Pretorius taking over from James at flyhalf. The versatile Ruan Pienaar could provide cover at scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback.

Selection for Cardiff would complete a dream season for the 1,93 metres, 103 kg Kankowski who said at the start of the year that his career goal was to play Super 14 and Test rugby. He played in all 15 Sharks' Super 14 games in 2007 and now, as the only specialist number eight in the Bok tour party, he is expected to start against Wales.

Revised Springbok squad:

Backs: Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Conrad Jantjes, Ricky Januarie, Wayne Julies, Akona Ndungane, Wynand Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Andre Pretorius, Francois Steyn. Forwards: Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Wian du Preez, Ryan Kankowski, Hilton Lobberts, Victor Matfield, Johann Muller, John Smit (captain), Juan Smith, Albert van den Berg, CJ van der Linde, Heinke van der Merwe.

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