Albert to replace Joe

Lanky lock Albert van den Berg could run out in the No 7 jersey for the Springboks against the All Blacks tomorrow.

Following Joe van Niekerk being ruled out of the Test at Loftus Versfeld with a neck injury, Van den Berg might be the shock replacement ahead of the likes of Pierre Spies and Pedrie Wannenburg.

“Albert has played there for Griquas before,” White explained to reporters at a press conference at the team hotel in Pretoria. “We need to decide if we want to play someone who has experience in the position or if we will bring a new guy in.”

“At the moment one of the three of Pierre Spies, Pedrie or Albert will start. It is unfortunate we have this happening but we must deal with it.” Counting against Wannenburg is the fact the he has not trained with the squad. He joined the squad late yesterday, but White indicated that did not mean he would automatically start.

A final decision will be made tonight.

Perhaps the best option would be to move Jacques Cronje to No 7 and bring Wannenburg in at No 8. That would mean two Bulls players would compliment each other in the back row, while they both have extensive experience of linking with scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.

“Joe woke up in the middle of the night complaining of a pain in his neck. We took him for a scan this morning and he is out for the rest of the Tri-Nations,” said White.

The official explanation of Van Niekerk’s injury is: “Van Niekerk has suffered an over-use disc degeneration of his cervical spine disc, presently symptomatic and requiring treatment,” said team doctor Yusuf Hassan. “He will return when satisfactory.”

By Andrew Hollely, at the Holiday Inn Beatrix Street