Still no Cheslin Kolbe for slumping Springboks as All Blacks await

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Cheslin Kolbe. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Cheslin Kolbe. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
  • The Springboks still won't have Cheslin Kolbe to add firepower to their attack ahead of Saturday's landmark Test against the All Blacks.
  • The world-class winger is still recovering from a leg injury and appears not to be conditioned for a return to play yet.
  • All other players, including Lood de Jager, are available as the Boks deny fatigue is staring to set in.

The Springboks appear likely to still miss out on the inspirational presence of Cheslin Kolbe ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship meeting with the All Blacks in Townsville on Saturday.

National assistant coach Deon Davids on Monday poured cold water on the possibility of the world-class winger's return from a leg injury for what is an extra special occasion - the 100th Test between the two countries.

"Cheslin is still doubtful for selection. He's returned to the training field and doing exercises," he said.

"So he's in his return-to-training phase of recovery, but not return-to-play so he's very much still doubtful for this upcoming game."

READ | Springboks v All Blacks rivalry reaches 100 Tests: What the numbers say

The 27-year-old Kolbe, who sustained the injury in a training session during the Boks' 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in Australia three weeks ago, has nonetheless remained a member of the current squad, with head coach Jacques Nienaber stating last week that he "wouldn't stay with us if we didn't think he'd be available for us in the next two weeks".

The prognosis on Lood de Jager, however, is far more positive as the towering second rower has recovered from concussion, which saw him miss last weekend's 17-30 defeat to the Wallabies.

"Obviously, after 15 weeks of play, there are niggles after a game like last weekend's," said Davids.

"But all the players were able to train on Monday. A guy like Lood has also recovered from his concussion, so he's back. The players are fit and firing on the training field. 

"With the broader squad, everyone is available for the coming week."

Some observers argued near the end of last weekend's match that the Boks' body language suggested they'd become fatigued and frustrated, aptly illustrated by a needless yellow card for replacement loose forward Jasper Wiese with two minutes remaining.

Yet while Davids admitted South Africa's playing schedule has become cumulatively more intense, it isn't an excuse for the underwhelming showings against the Wallabies.

"I'm no sport scientist, but I suppose 15 weeks of competitive play will come with its physical and mental challenges," he said.

"Add Covid-19 and some logistical tweaks to how we've needed to prepare and there will be some influence on the psyche. But before commenced on this campaign, we knew precisely what was lying ahead for us and we've prepared accordingly.

"We've adapted and we've addressed our problems."

Senior hooker Bongi Mbonambi agreed.

"Yes, we know it's been quite a busy schedule," he said.

"But we're all pros, we take everything week by week and do our preparation accordingly. We know the results have not been good and we take responsibility for that.

"We're just focusing on the new challenge of what awaits us this week."

The Springboks name their team on Tuesday.     

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