Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts was beaming, and for good reason, when he addressed his weekly injury report media conference in Umhlanga Rocks on Monday.
Although a clutch of players are still out injured and there are a few that are unlikely to play before the start of the Rugby World Cup, the experienced duo of skipper Jean de Villiers and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez were joined by the equally influential Willem Alberts in getting safely through what Roberts described as “a great training session” on Monday morning.
“As you know, Jean is a player who took a back seat a bit so that he could get some game time, and the news is good on that front as he looked good in training and should be available for selection for this week’s game,” said Roberts.
“It was also a good work-out for Fourie du Preez. We will obviously monitor how he responds to the training, as we will with Jean, before making a final decision, but he is potentially ready to play against the Pumas this week.
“Willem is also looking good. We’ve been building him up for a while now, and if gets through the training week then he will be ready to play.”
The Springboks face Los Pumas from Argentinia in their final match in this year’s truncated Rugby Championship in Durban on Saturday before travelling to Argentina to play a Rugby World Cup warm-up Test in Buenos Aires. Roberts appears confident that if the aforementioned players can start in Durban.
And the group of available players coming back from injury should be further swollen by young lock Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Wallaby lock Rob Simmons will miss this Saturday’s Rugby Championship decider against the All Blacks and next week’s Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland – after being ruled out with a scaphoid injury.
Simmons will undergo surgery in Brisbane on Tuesday and is expected to make a full recovery before the Wallabies take on the United States in Chicago next month.
Wallaby coach Michael Cheika said he was “disappointed” to lose the veteran of 52 Tests, but said it would provide great competition for other locks to press their claims for selection.
Argentina arrived in South Africa on Sunday without powerful tighthead prop Ramiro Herrera.
The 26-year-old front row forward has ruptured medial ligaments in his knee and has undergone surgery.
Team doctor Guillermo Botto said Herrera will require between about 4 to 6 weeks to recover, playing him in doubt for the Rugby World Cup – which gets underway on 18 September.
He has been replaced in the 26-man squad – for The Rugby Championship Test against South Africa’s Springboks in Durban on Saturday – by veteran prop Juan Pablo Orlandi, who last played for Los Pumas against England in November 2013.
The 32-year-old Orlandi played in 15 Tests for his country before being axed. He has now been thrown a World Cup lifeline.
Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade said they will continue to “evaluate” players ahead of next month’s World Cup – when they face the Springboks in Durban this week and Buenos Aires a week later.
All Blacks scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow will stay with the Chiefs for the next 2 seasons and has every intention of being 1st choice No 9.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said the 24 year-old has displayed an amazing work ethic recovering from his horrific injury during an All Blacks match late in 2014.
“Tawera is incredibly professional. His dedication to rehab and developing other parts of his game throughout his time out has been impressive. He is in fantastic condition.”
“He is now 1 of our senior players who contributes greatly in our environment. I know he is hungry to get back to top level footy.”
The tenacious scrumhalf has no intention of playing 2nd fiddle to either Brad Weber or Augustine Pulu.
The Springboks will be without tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis and flanker Francois Louw when they face Argentina’s Los Pumas in Durban next Saturday, but the Springboks could have Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts back while at this stage their medical team is optimistic of delivering a fully fit squad to the selectors for the Rugby World Cup, it was announced on Tuesday.
De Villiers, Du Preez and Alberts are 3 of 7 players whose fitness will be assessed on Monday as they complete the final phase of rehabilitation while players such as Duane Vermeulen and Coenie Oosthuizen are progressing well with their rehabilitation.
Although Du Plessis (knee) and Louw (rotator cuff), along with Victor Matfield and JP Pietersen (both hamstring injuries) will miss the Tests against the Pumas, none of these injuries will put their Rugby World Cup participation at risk. Saturday’s other injury victims, Vincent Koch and Warren Whiteley (rib cartilages) should be fit and available for selection next weekend.
Jan Serfontein (hip and knee), Marcell Coetzee (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee) and Steven Kitshoff (knee) will also be assessed on Monday with a view to being available to selection against the Pumas.
Examination of The Rugby Championship table with just 1 Round to go hardly suggests the Springboks may be inching spiritedly toward a prosperous new era.
South Africa lie 3rd, winless, and already out of the running: when they tackle Argentina in Durban in just under a fortnight it will simply be a battle to avoid the wooden spoon as the Wallabies and All Blacks slug it out for title glory a few hours earlier in Sydney.
Fortunately it had been widely accepted by the most astute of rugby observers before the 2015 tournament even began that its bragging rights are of secondary importance this year, given the scheduling just a few weeks shy of the 8th World Cup in the United Kingdom.
Local enthusiasts prepared to prioritise the bigger picture will also be fully aware that the Springboks could so easily be lying at the top of The Rugby Championship pile right now, as they bossed the Wallabies for 50 minutes in Brisbane and then the All Blacks for considerably closer to 70 minutes in Johannesburg on Saturday.
If rugby is a game of inches, then Tevita Kuridrani’s debated, last-gasp try made the critical difference 2 weeks back and Lood de Jager not being able to stretch his lunging arm just a couple of centimetres further against the All Blacks for a 55th-minute Springbok touchdown possibly denied them in the latest instance.
In the final analysis, lack of composure and 1 or 2 errors in tactical decision-making at vital times by a rookie-laden team thwarted them more than anything else on Saturday – it was not as though the Springboks looked light years behind for pure competence and skill in either instance, and that is a firm plus to bank in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup.
Perhaps also, a cranked-up emphasis on conditioning and durability will work wonders over the next couple of months as Heyneke Meyer’s charges get progressively used to the new ball-in-hand culture they are embracing with some gusto and swelling promise.
New Zealand’s come-from-behind win over South Africa at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday has come at a price.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, in his 140th appearance for his country, produced the match-winning try with a pre-planned lineout move 6 minutes from time – as they came back from trailing by 7 points twice.
The All Black flank won a lineout close to the Springboks’ line and brushed off the challenge of scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar to score a try that will go a long way towards New Zealand claiming The Rugby Championship title.
However, injuries to key players will have cast a cloud over the team’s celebrations.
Coach Steve Hansen confirmed that centre Ma’a Nonu has damaged his rotator cuff in his shoulder.
“He will have scans done when he gets home (next week) to determine the extent of the injury,” Hansen told a post-match media briefing.
The other big concern is lock Brodie Retallick, who took to the field despite injuring his ankle during warm up.
Hansen said the lock “showed his character” to play through the match with the injury.
Forwards Morné Mellett, RG Snyman and Deon Stegmann will all report for training on Tuesday, but fullback Jurgen Visser will miss the team’s match against Canon in Japan at the end of the month.
Visser injured a hamstring in training and has been ruled out till 3 August, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.
“Jaco Visagie (toe fracture), Morné Mellett (concussion), RG Snyman (calf), Louis Fouché (hamstring) and Deon Stegmann (hip) will all train tomorrow,” Strauss said.
A number of long term injuries are on the mend.
Pierre Schoeman (knee, 15 August), Clyde Davis (medial ligament, 27 July) and Ruan Steenkamp (knee, 15 August) will be back in the next 3 weeks.
Wallabies utility back Matt Giteau will miss his team’s clash with Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday due to a sternum injury.
Precautionary scans on his nose and chest yesterday cleared Giteau of any serious damage, after he sustained his injuries in the 24 / 20 victory over South Africa in Brisbane at the weekend, but the Wallaby management have opted to rest the 32-year old for the next stage of the tournament.
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika said although Giteau’s absence was a setback to the team, it would be better for him to rest after a tough Test against the Springboks.
“I know how desperate Matthew was to play and continue to contribute to this group over the next week, his leadership and presence off the field will be missed,” Cheika told the Australian Rugby Union’s official website.
The Wallabies have announced a 31-man touring squad for the next Round of The Rugby Championship in Argentina on Saturday 25 July.
Will Genia and Rob Horne have both been ruled out of the squad due to injury, following Australia’s 4 point victory over the Springboks in Brisbane on the weekend.
Genia suffered bone bruising and minor cartilage damage to his knee, while Horne will return to Sydney with a calf strain.
Head coach Michael Cheika said, “It’s disappointing for Will and Rob to miss this upcoming Test. They have both made an outstanding contribution to the group this past 2 weeks, and will continue to remain part of the wider squad from afar.”
“Will is due to have some minor surgery this week and we are confident he will be available for selection for the Bledisloe Cup series.
“We have taken a conservative approach with Rob and the additional week off will serve him well going into the next stage of our campaign.
Nick Cummins and Nic White will join the squad as their replacements, with 2 further additions in hooker James Hanson and prop Tetera Faulkner.
They will return as official members of the 31-man squad, after being used as additional training squad players in the lead-up to the Springboks Test.
Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams will not travel to South Africa for Round 2 of The Rugby Championship next weekend.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named a 31-man squad to travel to Johannesburg for the Test against the Springboks on 25 July with Carter and Williams being rested.
“In deciding on the squad to travel to South Africa, the selectors based their selections on 3 criteria,” explained Hansen.
“Firstly, we have picked experienced players who are well aware of the challenge of playing South Africa at home.
“Secondly, we want to give some other players the opportunity to see how they cope under the extreme pressure of playing South Africa and thirdly, we took into consideration the fact that some players in the squad could do with having a break for various reasons, so they will be staying home to freshen up.”
Hansen feels Carter and Williams deserve a break.
“Normally if we had a squad of 31, both of them would be in it and would be coming,” he said.
“Sonny has got bit of a busy schedule so we will let him have some time at home and DC can have some time at home as well – along with the other guys.”
All players who are remaining in New Zealand will be given individual training programmes to work on and will reassemble with the rest of squad in August and be available for selection for the Bledisloe Cup Tests.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen said he is feeling positive after undergoing surgery on his neck in Durban on Wednesday.
Vermeulen, the South African Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, will take a few days off to recuperate before starting with his rehabilitation process.
“I’m feeling good and positive and can’t wait to start my rehabilitation,” said Vermeulen.
“All the staff at the hospital made things so easy for me and I would really like to thank them for their effort – I really was in great hands.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the national side’s medical team will work tirelessly to get Vermeulen ready to be considered for Rugby World Cup selection.
“Duane is mentally very tough and he is a warrior who has always bled for his country and I’m expecting exactly the same attitude from him towards his rehabilitation,” said Meyer.
Argentina and Saracens prop Juan Figallo has been ruled out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England after undergoing surgery.
Figallo was with Argentina training for The Rugby Championship in Sydney last Thursday and he turned in a tackle and injured his knee.
The prop flew back to London after the injury and has already undergone surgery and will work his way back to fitness with Saracens.
Just a couple of days after being declared fully fit and available for the Springboks, Pat Lambie was back in hospital.
Fortunately for Lambie, the news this time around was nowhere near as serious as the neck injury that ruled him out of the remainder of Super Rugby in April.
Still, Lambie was taken straight to hospital from Cape Town Stadium after he picked up a knock to the head that left a cut.
Springbok No 8 and South Africa’s Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen, is in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup after it was revealed that he has to undergo surgery on a neck injury, but national skipper Jean de Villiers has been cleared to return to the game this weekend.
De Villiers, who had a full knee reconstruction towards the end of 2014, is 1 of 6 injured players who were given the all clear from the Springbok medical team to be considered for selection against the World XV at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday. The others are Pat Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Lionel Mapoe, Schalk Burger and Lood de Jager.
Although Jan Serfontein (hip and knee) is recovering well from his injury, he will not be considered for selection this week. Furthermore, Scarra Ntubeni and Faf de Klerk are over their ankle niggles from late last week and took full part in training on Monday, while Heinrich Brüssow (broken arm) has recovered well, but is still a week or 2 away from playing.
“Our medical team worked very hard on the injured players and it’s a great positive to see the guys return,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Monday.
Springbok No 8 and South Africa’s Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen, is in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup following a diagnosis that he will require surgery on a neck injury.
The 29-year-old Vermeulen, who was also the SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and the Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, consulted a specialist in Durban on the recommendation of the Springbok medical team.
The need for surgery was identified to give him the best possible chance to recover in time for the global rugby showpiece in England in September and October. The operation is scheduled for Wednesday.
A niggling hip flexor injury may have kept Springbok centre Jan Serfontein sidelined for parts of the Super Rugby season, but he is hopeful to soon stake a claim for a place in this year’s Rugby World Cup squad.
“Injuries have been a bit of a setback for me this year, but I’m on my way back. Maybe the fitness is a bit down, but it’s something you can work on, on your own,” Serfontein said at the Springbok camp in Johannesburg this week.
“I’m just hoping to get some game time for the World XV and in The Rugby Championship coming up.
Two injured players in the Springbok training squad, Frans Steyn and Pieter-Steph du Toit, have been temporarily released from the squad to continue their rehabilitation in Durban for the next few weeks.
Neither of them are expected to be fit for the Springboks’ 1st 2 matches of the season, next Saturday against the World XV in Cape Town and a week later against Australia in Brisbane. Steyn has a pectoral muscle tear, while Du Toit is recovering from a knee injury.
According to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer the decision to send Steyn and Du Toit home was taken with the best interests of the players in mind.
“We’ve discussed the way forward with the players, and all of us agreed that the best way forward at this stage is for them to get full-time rehabilitation at their home province, while our own medical team will keep very close tabs on their progress,” said Meyer.
“Both of them are still firmly in our plans going forward for the season and I really hope they can get back onto the field sooner rather than later. I’m confident the individual attention they will receive in Durban will be a massive benefit to them in the long run.
“We won’t be taking Frans or Pieter-Steph with us to Australia and will reassess their situation when we return from Brisbane.”
With the International Test window just around the corner (11 July), the Rugby news in South Africa is being dominated by Springbok preparations for what lies ahead in 2015… The World XV game, the abbreviated Rugby Championship and 1 further match against Los Pumas and of course the Rugby World Cup from 18 September to 31 October 2015.
Of course, it could also be argued that we do not have anything else to talk about, because South African sides have all been done and dusted with Super Rugby for a couple of weeks already, whilst 2 New Zealand sides are still contesting it… on their ownsome lonesome!
Maybe it is a blessing in disguise though, for overall Springbok preparations, as they now have much more time to get their ducks in a row for the international scene, and to re-introduce the injured and rehabilitating players…
BUT, and it’s a big BUT… the injury list seems almost as long as the list of fighting fit candidates and that is a big concern.
In this article, we focus on what Heyneke Meyer says and feels about his chosen Springbok squad, and we have a good look at the fitness and injury update from the Springbok camp.
Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will be sidelined for an extended period with a medial knee ligament injury.
When Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer unveiled a 49-strong squad on Saturday, a paragraph in the official media release revealed that “He suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week”.
More clarity regarding Du Preez’s injury was given in Johannesburg on Monday, where it was determined that the 33-year-old former Loftus-based favourite, now contracted to Suntory Goliath in Japan, will be sidelined for between 4 to 8 weeks.
The other scrumhalves picked in the Springbok squad are Ruan Pienaar, Cobus Reinach, Faf de Klerk and Rudy Paige.
Another serious injury concern is prop Coenie Oosthuizen who had a neck operation today and will miss the Castle Rugby Championship.
The Highlanders have received a boost with the news that flyhalf Lima Sopoaga, who suffered a knee injury at a training camp, is set to take his place in their Super Rugby semi-final against the Waratahs.
“He’s fine. He just twisted his knee, it’s a wee bit of a one off,” coach Jamie Joseph said in Sydney on Friday. “It was a wee bit of a scare for everybody, but he’s fine and he’s going to train today.”
The 24-year-old, who has also been named in an extended All Blacks squad, had initially feared he might have to sit out Saturday’s match against the defending champions.
“I think his body feels fine today and, as Jamie said, it was just a bit of a scare at the time,” added Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith.
The Springboks will welcome the news that flyhalf Pat Lambie has been declared fit for action.
The Cell C Sharks pivot visited a specialist on Thursday to determine the extent of the neck injury which sidelined him for the past 3 months.
The Sharks on Thursday announced that the 24-year-old was fit to play.
He is expected to be included in Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok squad on Saturday.
Waratahs head coach Michael Cheika has named the team to face the Highlanders in the 2015 Super Rugby Semi-Final to be played at Allianz Stadium, Sydney on Saturday 27 June. Kick-Off is at 19:55 AEST (21:55 NZ Time, 09:55 GMT).
Matt Carraro has been named to play in the centres after Kurtley Beale failed to complete training on Thursday.
Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie will see a specialist in Durban on Thursday to determine his availability.
A neck injury saw the Sharks pivot miss the latter half of the Super Rugby competition and there is uncertainty regarding his availability for the Springboks’ 1st game against a World XV at DHL Newlands on 11 July.
“I’m going to see the doctor for a final examination,” Lambie said. “I hope to be fit and available for the World XV match as well as The Rugby Championship.”
Waratahs’ centre Kurtley Beale is in a race against time to be ready for the Waratahs’ semifinal match with the Highlanders in Sydney on Saturday.
Neither Beale nor wing Rob Horne trained with the side on Tuesday, and while Horne is expected to recover from a calf niggle in time, Waratahs assistant coach Daryl Gibson conceded time is against them regarding Beale’s injured quadriceps.
Gibson said Beale would be given until Thursday to be ready, but the Waratahs were preparing for versatile utility Matt Carraro to reprise the role he took at short notice against the Reds a fortnight ago.
“Beale’s been doing his exercises and getting up to a running pace that enables him to at least have a chance on Thursday to see if he can make it,” Gibson said.
Dan Pryor’s Super Rugby season is likely over after the versatile forward suffered a dislocated elbow in his side’s Qualifier triumph over the Chiefs.
Pryor came from the field in the 61st minute and the Highlanders confirmed via social media on Sunday morning that the 27-year-old had suffered the injury.
Head coach Jamie Joseph confirmed that Pryor will definitely miss next week’s Semi-Final against the Waratahs.
DHL Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will be ready for their Super Rugby qualifier against the Brumbies at Newlands on Saturday.
Catrakilis suffered concussion in his side’s 19 / 19 home draw against the Emirates Lions on 6 June when he attempted to tackle loose forward Jaco Kriel.
The Stormers pivot was rested for last weekend’s 34 / 12 loss to the Cell C Sharks in Durban, with Kurt Coleman taking his place.
But Catrakilis is raring to go for this Saturday’s clash, coach Allister Coetzee confirmed.
“Dim is fine – he passed his test with flying colours, he’s cleared,” Coetzee told the Stormers’ official website.
The Brumbies are following protocol regarding the concussion of flank David Pocock in the hopes that he will be available for their must-win game against the DHL Stormers on Saturday.
Pocock was taken out of the Crusaders game just before halftime on Saturday, after he copped a knock to the head from a Richie McCaw cleanout at the breakdown.
The Brumbies No 7 stayed down for several seconds, but played on for about 5 minutes before coming off.
Chiefs scrumhalf Augustine Pulu has been ruled out of the Super Rugby’s Finals Series due to a broken arm.
Pulu, who represented the All Blacks in 2 Tests on their 2014 end-of-year tour, sustained the injury after coming on as a replacement in the Chiefs’ 21 / 13 defeat to the Hurricanes in New Plymouth on Saturday.
“Pulu underwent surgery earlier today to insert a plate,” the Chiefs revealed via a press release on Sunday.
“The expected return to play time is 8 to 10 weeks.”
The Hurricanes will enter their derby against the Chiefs without the services of All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett after the playmaker was ruled out with a calf strain.
Barrett’s absence sees James Marshall return to flyhalf after playing fullback in his team’s 56 / 20 victory over the Highlanders last week. Nehe Milner-Skudder moves from the wing to take Marshall’s place at the back.
Head coach Chris Boyd has also shuffled his forwards slightly, bringing Mark Abbott and Callum Gibbins into the starting line-up, along with Brad Shields who came off the bench last week.
Boyd has decided to let hardworking forwards James Broadhurst and Ardie Savea keep their jackets on a little while longer this week, with the pair having started 13 and 12 matches respectively, out of a possible 15.
Meanwhile, the clash will see another milestone for centre and captain Conrad Smith, who will join Ma’a Nonu as the most capped Hurricane when he leads his team onto Yarrow Stadium this weekend.
Vodacom Bulls midfielder Jan Serfontein has not recovered sufficiently from a knee strain and will miss his team’s last Vodacom Super Rugby clash of the season against the Toyota Cheetahs in Pretoria on Saturday.
Serfontein returned home from Australia two weeks ago due to the MCL strain and will not make it onto the field on Saturday, Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed.
Deon Stegmann, who missed the Rebels match due to bruised ribs, will be given till Thursday to prove his fitness, but JJ Engelbrecht (elbow), Burger Odendaal (hamstring), Jacques du Plessis (back) and Jesse Kriel (quad) were all back on the field on Tuesday.
DHL Stormers No 8 and captain Duane Vermeulen consulted a neurosurgeon on Monday, after he was withdrawn from the past weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Lions with a severe neck spasm.
Vermeulen suffered an intense spasm in his neck after last Friday’s captain’s run, with an MRI showing a bulging disc at a C5 level.
However, the DHL Stormers and Springbok star consulted a neurosurgeon on Monday and the prognosis was positive ahead of the upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby play-offs, with the DHL Stormers set to host either a quarter- or semifinal in the coming weeks.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is facing some serious selection posers in the wake of his team’s humiliation at the hands of Super Rugby’s runaway leaders, the Hurricanes.
As if shipping more than 50 points were not enough, he has lost 2 more locks and now have a serious 2nd row crisis.
Tom Franklin and Alex Ainley became the latest additions to the 2nd row injury list – which also includes Joe Wheeler (knee) and Mark Reddish (hand).
It means Joseph is down to some utility forwards, rather than specialist locks, ahead of the Final Round of league action – when they face the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
Joseph – who rested the star All Black trio of Ben and Aaron Smith, as well as Malakai Fekitoa – started the match against the Hurricanes with a host of players on the injury list.
Apart from the locks, Shane Christie (hamstring), Hayden Parker (shoulder), Kane Hames (knee), Nasi Manu (shoulder), Patrick Osborne (calf) and Josh Renton (hamstring) were unavailable.
A female rugby player showed the boys how it’s done when she made 2 bone-crunching tackles after breaking her nose on the pitch.
Georgia Page, an Australian who plays for US university team Lindenwood, broke her nose during a match against Notre Dame earlier this week.
Instead of calling time on her game, she soldiered on – making 2 further tackles with blood streaming down her face – and winning legions of supporters on social media.
USA Sevens Rugby tweeted out a picture and video of Ms Page during the match, referring to her as the “the Rugby War Goddess,” much to the amusement of the goddess herself who replied: “this is great”.
The Brumbies’ Sam Carter’s Super Rugby season is over and his Rugby World Cup dream is in doubt after suffering a grade 3 medial injury in Friday night’s clash against the Vodacom Bulls.
“It’s a significant tear in the medial ligament and he’s got a fracture where the bones banged together on impact, so up to 3 months with that one,” Brumbies’ head coach Stephen Larkham said.
“We knew it was bad, the fact he couldn’t play on was pretty telling and then you look at the replay and you can see it was a significant injury.
“We were hoping for good and the good news we were hoping for was 6 weeks anyway.