Boost for beleaguered Boks

Springbok coach Jake White wore a broad smile on Monday evening after all his doubtful players passed a fitness test.

White will have a full squad of 27 players from which to select his match 22 for the Vodacom Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

“I’m thrilled that all the guys that needed to come right did today,” White told keo.co.za. “I think all except maybe Danie Rossouw will be available for the game on Saturday. I won’t be releasing anyone or bringing any other guys in.”

The only player missing from the original 28-man squad was Lions scrumhalf Ricky Januarie who has been given the week off. The rest of the players took a full part in today’s training session at Pretoria Boys’ High.

“I’m very happy that all the players came through today’s session without any problems,” White said. “It’s a much better situation than having 19 players to work with. We were able to run our plays against other players today, which we could not last week.”

The omission of Januarie has opened the door for Ruan Pienaar to get his first Bok cap, probably as a replacement, on Saturday. “Ricky is the only player of the touring group who has not had a rest. While the others all had a week off, Ricky went straight back to the Lions. I’m also happy with his 70-odd minutes of game time he got at the weekend.

White is expected to make just one change to his starting line-up for the match bringing back the fit-again Jean de Villiers for Wynand Olivier who could drop from the match 22 entirely.

The backline that White had running towards the end of practice today consisted of Fourie du Preez, Butch James, Bryan Habana, de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Akona Ndungane and Percy Montgomery.

“The practice probably could have gone better, but we are practicing some of these new things for the first time. The guys are really motivated and I was pleased with the intensity at practice.”

By Andrew Hollely