The injured Springboks that missed Saturday’s clash are unlikely to feature in the next pool match against Namibia.
The good news for the Boks is that the team escaped Saturday’s bruising encounter against Fiji without any further injuries. Team doctor Craig Roberts was in a relatively cheerful mood when he relayed the news to the media on Sunday.
Roberts explained that it was always the plan to bring lock Bakkies Botha off at half-time and introduce Willem Alberts to the second row. The change was made to ensure Botha, who had just recovered from an Achilles injury, didn’t overextend himself.
While the Fiji slayers remain intact, there is still uncertainty over the availability of the injured contingent. Victor Matfield (hamstring), Johann Muller (hamstring), Butch James (hip-flexor), Bryan Habana (shoulder) and Jean de Villiers (ribs) will all be reassessed after Monday’s training session in Taupo.
Roberts said that the medical team would wait until after Monday’s practice before making any decisions, but Bok assistant coach Dick Muir suggested that the management wouldn’t risk these players unless absolutely necessary.
‘It’s a short turnaround and if the players didn’t play in the previous match they probably won’t play in the next game,’ said Muir.
The keo.co.za team spotted Matfield jogging around the outskirts of Taupo, and he didn’t appear to be experiencing any discomfort. Roberts said that a decision on the vice-captain’s availability would be made with the big picture in mind.
‘Victor’s done a lot of intensive rehab, and we’re very happy with his progress,’ he said. ‘But it’s a long tournament and we want him at his best. We will reassess him on Monday and take it from there.’
If Matfield and Muller miss out on selection, Botha and Danie Rossouw will continue as the starting second-row pairing with Alberts covering lock from the bench.
By Jon Cardinelli, in Taupo