When the Springbok squad of 31 (one more player to be added) was announced on Sunday, my first impression was that there was a squad of fully fit players, bar maybe some niggles after the Currie Cup Final of the day before.
It now appears that there were indeed real injuries to be considered, specifically the injuries of Adriaan Strauss (knee) and Francois Louw (neck) as well as Springbok Captain Jean de Villiers (hamstring).
Adriaan Strauss was withdrawn from the Toyota Free State Cheetahs side who played the Eastern Province Kings on Friday night in their 2nd Promotion / Relegation game in Port Elizabeth, whereas Francois Louw injured his neck playing for Bath in the English Premiership game against Exeter. Adriaan Strauss has since been cleared and will be ready to tour.
The two players will undergo Medical Examinations today, to determine the extent of their injuries and to determine their availability for the End Of Year Springbok Tour to the Northern Hemisphere.
Adriaan Strauss’ injury appear to be an old knee injury playing up and it would appear that his withdrawal last week was precautionary and to ensure he would be ready for the Springbok tour. “It’s an old injury that is giving me trouble, but we will have a look on Monday,” he said. If Adriaan Strauss, now declared fit to play, is selected to play, he will most likely play against his cousin, Richardt Strauss, who was selected for Ireland last week and who could be making his Ireland and International debut against Adriaan and the Springboks.
Francois Louw suffered his neck injury shortly after scoring his side’s 3rd try in Bath’s 23 / 15 win over Exeter. “Francois has got a bad bang on his head and it looks like he’s compacted the vertebrae on his neck so he’s in a lot of pain at the moment. I think it’s going to be a lot sorer in the morning so we will have to evaluate how he gets on,” Bath’s director of rugby, Gary Gold said over the weekend. “We will have a look at him on Monday. He’s available to us for next week’s game and then we will lose him for the tests the Springboks are going to play.” Louw was a standout looseforward since returning to the Springboks and has formed a well-balanced and complete loose trio with Willem Alberts and Duanne Vermeulen at the back of the scrum for the Springboks in the latter stages of The Rugby Championship.
Springbok Captain Jean de Villiers missed the Currie Cup Final game on the weekend and the previous week’s Currie Cup Semi-final due to a hamstring strain and it must be mentioned that he was one of the Springbok players sporting ice packs after training and after games in the recent Rugby Championship every week, the old bones and muscles showing their fatigue.
Jean de Villiers is confident that he will be able to lead the side against Ireland in Dublin though.
The Springboks are missing no less than 13 front-line Springbok players due to injury plus a number of last year’s outstanding Springboks are unavailable due to rugby committments in Japan.
Injured Springboks who were part of the Springbok squad this year alone include Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis, Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker, Siya Kolisi, Jacques Potgieter, Pierre Spies, Johan Goosen, Francois Steyn and Bryan Habana. Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brüssow are also still injured.