'French' Boks raring to go

Heyneke Meyer (AP)
Heyneke Meyer (AP)

Cape Town - The Springbok European contingent have for the most part all arrived back at the Bok team hotel and are raring to go.

According to the supersport.com website, Morne Steyn arrived an hour after the rest of the Bok team late on Sunday night after returning from France while Gurthro Steenkamp and Jano Vermaak both rejoined the team on Monday morning.

Juandre Kruger and Bryan Habana are both due to rejoin the team in time for their flush out session on Monday, where the Boks will put in a light gym and pool session to get them over the effects of jetlag.

But while they are all in good spirits, some questions still linger about whether it was worth the trips back to France for the five players, especially as they were mostly used sparingly. In Habana’s case he was used for the last 10 minutes of his match with Toulon, coming off the bench as they went down 28-26 to Grenoble, after Jonny Wilkinson missed a last minute conversion to Matt Giteau’s try that would have leveled the game.

Steyn played 20 minutes of his side’s 38-3 win over Biarritz, and was happy with the time he got.

“It was an amazing atmosphere, and I really enjoyed it,” he told supersport.com after arriving at the hotel.

Steenkamp and Vermaak both played 70 minutes as Toulouse went down 38-19 to Clermont, and then had to drive three hours to Lyon to catch a flight to Brisbane via Dubai, but were surprisingly fresh as both managed to get some sleep on the plane.

Kruger’s Racing Metro team beat Oyannax 22-9 in their game.

On Monday, coach Heyneke Meyer said he was impressed by all five in their attitude as they were very keen to rejoin the team after returning from Europe.

“I think they’re professional players and they know how to look after themselves. Their attitude was great and they’re all raring to go,” Meyer said.

Asked if it was worth it to have them fly all that way, the Bok coach was non-committal, but said he was simply happy to have their services for this weekend’s test match.

“That decision is not in my hands. You should ask the clubs. I’m just grateful everyone came through and arrived here fresh and fit and are ready for the challenge. It's great to have them back. I’ve met them all this morning with the exception of Bryan (Habana) and JK (Juandre Kruger) but the rest of the guys look fresh, so they’re ready to go.”

Of the five, Steyn and Habana are expected to start, while Kruger, Steenkamp and Vermaak are all likely to be on the bench for the Boks.

Team doctor Craig Roberts also gave the all-clear for both Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson to rejoin training after niggling injuries when the team takes the field on Tuesday.

“With injuries we’re quite lucky. First of all not many guys played on the weekend, but the guys who did came through fine. Chiliboy (Ralepelle) is on the final phase of his recovery from a back injury he picked up two weeks ago. He’s done really well and will slot in with the rest of the squad tomorrow. Bjorn Basson is the only other one with a worry, he’s got a wrist sprain and he also did full training with the squad yesterday and will slot in. So we have a fully fit squad to choose from,” Dr Roberts said.

Despite having to fly from Argentina to South Africa and again to Australia with a few days break, Dr Roberts said the jetlag factor is not something they are overly concerned with.

“In terms of the jetlag, it is always difficult. This is a truly global competition and you end up flying right around the world and you develop certain strategies to deal with that. The players are used to the travel and the more you travel the easier it does become. With Super Rugby the players are very comfortable coming to Australia and New Zealand and they know the symptoms of jet lag. We also have strategies in place to have them adapt as quickly as possible.

“Today is a very low key session, we don’t have a field session, just a flush out and we will start building towards a rugby related sessions from tomorrow,” he added.

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