Jake’s hooker horror

Springbok captain John Smit may miss the World XV match next weekend.

Smit failed to train with his team-mates at Shimla Park on Tuesday and is still struggling with his groin problem. The Bok No 2 had an operation that forced him to miss several Vodacom Super 14 matches and is being monitored by the Bok medical team.

“John has not yet recovered 100% from his groin operation. The medical team has recommended that he must rest,” Springbok coach Jake White said. “He won’t do any lineout throw-ins, because this could have an impact on his groin injury.”

And to add to White’s woes, former Bulls front-rower Danie Coetzee was hobbling around in a foot brace at practice, which leaves just two fit hookers in the entire squad. Hanyani Shimange though was also absent from Tuesday’s afternoon practice, leaving just Gary Botha to throw in at the lineouts.

Botha has more important things on his mind. He fled Bloemfontein late on Tuesday to be with his wife, Anrike, who is expected to give birth to their first child some time today.

While Springbok management are doing their very best to deflect the focus from the mounting injury list and associated disruptions, it is an inescapable reality that unlike their Antipodean counterparts, the Boks are more severely prone to falling foul to niggles.

This news was offset though by the welcome arrival in Bloemfontein of the Bulls which saw the intensity of the training sessions increase dramatically.

“We were playing it easy for the first few days to give the guys some much needed rest,” assistant coach Allister Coetzee told keo.co.za. “Yes, we are still missing some guys, but we will be getting most of them back in the next few weeks.”

While White is taking the World XV match very seriously, it will be nothing more than a festival ocassion – a Baabaas game in disguise. However, defeat at Ellis Park will be a severe blow at the start of a long season.

And Scotland’s recent fine showing in the Six Nations means they can not be taken lightly either in the two-Test series that follows. France at Newlands will be the biggest test ahead of the expanded Vodacom Tri-Nations.

By Andrew Hollely, in Bloemfontein