Fringe Boks still in contention

The Bok management confirmed Schalk Brits and JP Pietersen are available for Test selection.

Both players are in Johannesburg training with the Boks, even though they weren’t included in Peter de Villiers’s initial 30-man squad. Schalk Burger is also in Jo’burg undergoing a rehabilitation programme for an injured knee and is expected to be back in action next week.

Communication manager Chris Hewitt told on Tuesday that both Brits and Pietersen are in contention for the second Test against Wales. However, it is more likely that they will feature in the next game against Italy.

Brits should come onto the bench in the Newlands fixture as Bismarck du Plessis replaces captain John Smit in the starting side. Smit will be returning to France because of club commitments, as will fullback Percy Montgomery. Pietersen could be reintroduced to the squad from the bench.

While Burger’s rehabilitation has excluded him from many of the Bok exercises on the training field, Pietersen, who was targeted by De Villiers for his lack of fitness in the Super 14, took full part in Monday’s session. The Bok management refuses to speculate what sort of timeframe will see Pietersen up to speed, but if he’s available for this week’s game, it surely suggests he’s ready to play.

The Boks focused on the line-out this Tuesday morning, and will shift their attention to the scrums later this afternoon. The new combinations are said to be the root of the problem, as a lack of synergy prevented them from getting a good hit on the Welsh eight.

Smit, Butch James, CJ van der Linde, Brian Mujati, Danie Rossouw and Tonderai Chavhanga, who all sat out Monday’s session, are expected to be ready for the all-important afternoon practice on Tuesday. will keep you updated on the progress of these injuries.

By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg