Saru CEO Jurie Roux maintains that the Springboks’ lengthy injury list is genuine.
Coach Peter de Villiers announced on Wednesday that as many as 21 players would be unavailable for the away leg of the Tri-Nations due to injury. On Friday, De Villiers confirmed that Pierre Spies and Zane Kirchner would also not tour, taking the crocked count of top-flight players up to 23.
It appears highly convenient that this elite group of players would fall foul to injury at the exact time where a clever coach may be looking to rest them before the all-important World Cup. The Australian Rugby Union has already urged Sanzar to investigate the veracity of these injuries, and Sanzar CEO Greg Peters has declared himself satisfied.
Speaking to a media gathering in Cape Town, Roux said that the Boks are not trying to pull the wool over their opponents eyes, or renege on a Sanzar agreement that binds them to play their best available squad.
‘To me this is the strongest squad,’ he said. ‘This is the best fit, and uninjured, group that we have available.
‘[Australia] are within their rights to make a query. Sanzar have made an inquiry and we’ve given them our reply, and I know that they are happy with the result.
‘We have a binding agreement to take the best available squad to Australia, and we are staying true to our word.’
De Villiers said that he believes the team he’s selected for the tour can do well even though a number of experienced heads will be missing.
‘In an ideal world we wouldn’t have the Tri-Nations in a World Cup year, but it’s by chance that we are unable to take our experienced players on tour. There are 22 or 23 players injured, but nobody should assume that every player in that group is going to the World Cup. There are still eight or nine spots left to play for.
‘I see this tour as a great opportunity for some of the youngsters. It’s not a weak side and they will be carrying the flag for South Africa. They all have an opportunity, and they must use it.’