Francois Louw is the obvious loose-forward replacement for the Springboks two home Castle Rugby Championship Tests after flanker Jaco Kriel was ruled out for six months.

Kriel joins loose-forwards Duane Vermeulen and Warren Whiteley on the sidelines, while the in-form Ulster-based loose-forward Marcell Coetzee can’t be selected because he has not played 30-plus Tests for the Springboks.

Coetzee has been devastating for Ulster in the early part of the Guinness Pro 14, but injury ruled him out of the French series in June, and his 28 Test caps mean that he can only be picked for the national team if he returns to South Africa to play his rugby.

Coetzee isn’t alone among the several South African in-form loose-forwards in the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, but Bath-based Louw is the only loose-forward specialist likely to be summoned from overseas.

Louw, who has played 52 Tests, also missed the June internationals because of injury. He then indicated he would take a sabbatical from Test rugby and commit his energy to leading Bath.

However, the needs of the Springboks have forced a rethink and Louw confirmed  he has been placed on standby to return to South Africa to play Australia and New Zealand.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said he would consider all player options before finalising his squad for the remaining two competition matches in South Africa.

Coetzee is unlikely to include more than a handful of overseas-based South Africans and indications are that Louw, Saracens prop Vincent Koch and Toulon’s veteran Springbok winger JP Pietersen could be the trio recalled to the Springboks.

 

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