White slams player abuse

The international season only kicks-off in two weeks’ time and already Springbok coach Jake White is complaining that his players have played too much rugby.

White told Reuters that he was not surprised Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana had sustained injuries in a Super 14 match on Saturday and expressed concern about the fitness of his squad ahead of international fixtures.

Lock Botha (Achilles) and wing Habana (ankle) hobbled off the field as the Bulls lost their Super 14 semi-final against the Crusaders 35-15 in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Springbok training squad gathered in Bloemfontein last Wednesday to begin preparing for the international season. South Africa will play a friendly against a World XV on June 3, followed by home Tests against Scotland and France before the Tri-Nations series begins. Habana and Botha may only be back in time for the one-off Test against France in Cape Town.

“I could have told you before the game something like this was going to happen,” White told Reuters from the Springbok training camp on Sunday.

“We have been saying for a long time that the players are being asked to play too much rugby. Habana has had one week off since the start of the year and has played for a full two years before that,” explained White.

“And 72 hours before the semi-final Bakkies (Botha) was unlikely to play due to an Achilles injury. The fact that he only lasted 30 minutes suggests that he wasn’t fit to play. It’s very disappointing.”

White said he had not been in contact with the Bulls but that he believed his medical team had spoken to the Super 14 franchise’s management to assess how bad the injuries were.

“We will only know fully once they’re here and we are able to examine them,” he said. “Injuries are going to be a problem because my medical staff has informed me that some of the players are on the edge and the season is just starting.”

Fyhalf Andre Pretorius was unable to train at the camp and has already undergone groin surgery. Props Os du Randt (knee), Brendon Botha (back) and Eddie Andrews (shoulder) are also under an injury cloud while centre Marius Joubert (hand) is out for six weeks and Wayne Julies (knee) at least 10 days.