Bryan Habana ran without difficulty at Monday’s training session while Pat Lambie ran with the other injured players on the sideline.
Local and travelling South Africa fans arrived by the busload at Owen Delaney Park in anticipation of the Springboks’ first public training session in Taupo. The bitter cold and rain did little to dampen their spirits, as hundreds of fans cheered the Boks as they ran through their drills.
Habana seems to be something of superstar in these parts, and it would have pleased the spectators, and indeed the legions of fans back home, to see him running freely. Habana missed last week’s game against Fiji due to a knee injury, but trained with the rest of the team and even took some contact.
What was concerning to see was fullback Pat Lambie running with the other injured Bok players on the sideline. According to the Bok management, Lambie sustained a wrist injury in the Fiji game and every precaution has been taken to ensure he does not aggravate it further. The assessment of this injury is ongoing, and his availability will be determined later in the week.
As assistant coach Dick Muir suggested on Sunday, it is unlikely that the injured players who missed the Fiji clash will be pushed into the team for Thursday’s game against Namibia. Butch James (hip-flexor) missed Monday’s session completely, while Victor Matfield (hamstring), Johann Muller (hamstring) and Jean de Villiers (ribs) ran with Lambie as the medical staff monitored them closely.
James’s absence should also be a big concern, as the coaching staff had planned to start him at flyhalf against Namibia. It is unlikely that Peter de Villiers and company will stray from their preferred starting line-up for the Samoa game, unless there are more injuries.
As many as eight other players missed training on Monday. John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Danie Rossouw, Heinrich Brussow, Pierre Spies, Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn were all absent, although the official line at this stage is that these players are being managed after a brutal physical encounter against the Fijians.
The Springboks will announce their match 22 to play Namibia on Tuesday (07:00 New Zealand time/ 21:00 on Monday SA time.)
By Jon Cardinelli, in Taupo