Let the games begin

Jake White believes 2006 will be the toughest season ever for the country’s top players.Speaking from Bloemfontein, where a group of 24 contracted Springbok players underwent a thorough medical and conditioning assessment, White said he had wanted to assess his players after their demanding 2005 season.

“These results will provide us with a firm basis for our overall conditioning plan for the 2006 season,” he told Sapa. “The forthcoming international season will be even more demanding than previous years. Our players will participate in the expanded Super 14 competition, and the Tri-Nations will boast a bigger format [with an extra round of matches]. It is vital that we start early with our preparations and especially our conditioning programme.”More importantly these assessments will form an integral part of our strategic preparations, conditioning plan and objective for the 2007 World Cup in France.”

A few players did not attend due to injury, including Springbok captain John Smit, CJ van der Linde, Gurthro Steenkamp, Ashwin Willemse, Jaque Fourie, Ricky Januarie, Joe van Niekerk and Marius Joubert.

Two more assessments are scheduled for later this year – in May
after completion of the Super 14, and again in July before the start of the Tri-Nations.

White reiterated that the injured Springbok players who did not undergo testing will have to complete the same assessments before they will be allowed to return to action.

* End of year tour fixtures still to be released

10 June – South Africa vs Scotland, Durban
17 June – South Africa vs Scotland, PE
24 June – South Africa vs France, Cape Town
15 July – Australia vs South Africa, Brisbane
22 July – New Zealand vs South Africa, Wellington
5 August – Australia vs South Africa, Sydney
26 August – South Africa vs New Zealand, Rustenburg
2 September – South Africa vs New Zealand, Jo’burg
9 September – South Africa vs Australia, Pretoria