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 selection of 8 uncapped players and the return of a further 6 are the features of the Springbok squad named on Saturday for the 5 matches leading up to the Rugby World Cup later this season.
In addition to the 36 squad members, the national selectors have identified 13 players who are currently injured or will be in rehabilitation, but will form part of an extended squad for the matches against the World XV, Castle Lager Rugby Championship and the Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
The uncapped players in the squad are Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Rudy Paige, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel, Franco Mostert and Lionel Mapoe.
Back in the Springbok fold after not featuring in any Springbok Tests last year, are Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jaque Fourie, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Heinke van der Merwe.
The currently injured players included in the squad are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Lionel Mapoe, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Frans Steyn, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, Jaque Fourie, Jan Serfontein and Fourie du Preez. The latter suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week.
“It’s a long list of injured players but all of them are in the selection frame and we’d like to work with them to assist with their rehabilitation,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
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.
On Saturday Heyneke Meyer will give the 1st indication of which foreign-based players will feature in the World Cup.
Meyer is set to name his squad to play a World XV at Newlands on 11 July – with Jean de Villiers set to make his comeback from injury, most likely off the bench.
But it will also be the 1st opportunity for the foreign-based players to re-introduce themselves to the local lads.
The incumbent Springbok captain, De Villiers, dislocated his patella in the South Africa’s 6 / 12 loss to Wales in Cardiff at the end of November last year and had to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.
If his rehabilitation goes according to schedule, the Springbok captain will play his 1st proper match in 8 months in a Currie Cup warm-up clash for Western Province against the Pumas in Franschoek on 18 July.
Province then travel to Port Elizabeth a week later for another friendly against the EP Kings, where De Villiers is also expected to feature.
However, before that De Villiers is set to play for the Springboks in the World XV clash at Newlands for a few minutes.
There are plenty of South Africans plying their trade overseas and of course some of them could and will be selected in the 31-man squad come Saturday.
However, none of them have featured at the recent Springbok training camps.
South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins on Wednesday congratulated and thanked the Springbok squad involved in the 1995 Rugby World Cup as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their epic World Cup final win in Johannesburg.
The Springboks won their 1st Rugby World Cup on 24 June 1995, beating New Zealand, 15 / 12, in a memorable final played at Ellis Park. The result unleashed a tide of goodwill and nation-building across South Africa, which a year earlier had celebrated democracy after decades of racial segregation.
“We proudly celebrate this day as a rugby family, because this team helped Nelson Mandela unite a country,” said Mr Hoskins. “It was a moment that astonished a nation and provided one of the foundation stones for the country we were to become. It was arguably the greatest day in our rugby history.
“Mr Mandela together with that Springbok team pointed the way to a new future for our people and 20 years later that day still has a massive resonance.
“We continue to salute the 1995’ers for what they achieved as a rugby team and what they meant to a nation.”
Mr Hoskins said it was also a day to remember and honour the legacy of the fallen heroes from that day, President Mandela, the Springbok coach Kitch Christie and flanker Ruben Kruger.
Francois Louw is determined to keep hold of his Springbok jersey despite being based overseas in Bath.
Louw is 1 of the overseas-based players expected to make the Springbok squad to be announced later this week. However other contenders for the openside role are the likes of Heinrich Brussow, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi and Jaco Kriel who have all been in the Super Rugby spotlight this year.
Louw is the incumbent Springbok flank and has been Heyneke Meyer’s 1st choice for some time though he acknowledges the challenge of cracking the Springbok squad from the northern hemisphere.
“When I 1st signed for Bath, I knew it would be more challenging making the Springbok squad. But it was a move I needed to make at that stage of my career as I needed a fresh challenge, on and off the field,” Louw said.
“So when Heyneke Meyer gave me my opportunity in 2012, I was delighted and made the most of it. I’m glad that I’ve been able to play an extended role for South Africa over the years, and I want to continue giving my best to the team.”
New Kobe Steelers’ coach Allister Coetzee has said that Springbok centre Jaque Fourie is available and keen to play for South Africa at the World Cup.
Fourie had previously announced his retirement from international rugby in November 2014 which came as a surprise to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Coetzee however, in his final Stormers press conference, said that Kobe Steelers’ centre Fourie is keen to play at the World Cup but Springbok lock Andries Bekker is not available.
According to Coetzee the Japanese club have made it clear to SARU that Bekker will not be an option for the Boks.
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.”
Flank Heinrich Brüssow could be a surprise inclusion when Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer names a 40-man squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Despite currently being laid low by an arm injury, Brüssow could be included when Meyer names his squad on Sunday.
Despite being invited to various Bok training camps in recent years, Brüssow has never played a Test under Meyer as coach, with the last of his 20 internationals coming against Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has no plans to retire after this year’s Rugby World Cup.
De Villiers suffered a horrific knee injury in the Springboks’ final Test against Wales in Cardiff late last year and underwent intensive rehabilitation to recover in time for this year’s World Cup.
He appears to have made a remarkable recovery and on Wednesday confirmed that he would be able to return to the playing field in a month’s time.
The Bok skipper also said he had no intentions of calling it quits after the World Cup.
“I didn’t go through 10 months of rehabilitation just to play 10 more games,” De Villiers was quoted as saying.
The departure shortly from the Stormers of superstar No 8 Duane Vermeulen on a three-year deal to Toulon arguably confirms for the first time a grim reality: an overseas-based group of players would now make up the bulk of a full-strength Springbok team.
Vermeulen is the cherry on top, in many ways, of a fresh wave of once staunchly SA-based players quitting the domestic landscape either following this season’s Super Rugby competition – only the Stormers retain an interest in it – or later in the year after the Currie Cup and RWC 2015 have run their courses.
He is one of the most precious elements of the current Bok mix, and if you consider him foreign-based henceforth – along with several other seasoned internationals on their bikes imminently – then it is quite feasible to argue that the cream of coach Heyneke Meyer’s intended first-choice Test XV will suddenly be drawn from foreign climes.
Before, it was just a sprinkling, with men like France-based Bryan Habana, English-stationed Francois Louw and JP Pietersen from Japan bolstering a Bok side still made up very strongly of “home” elements.
But that trend is set for a pretty violent change.
The new ASICS-designed and manufactured Springbok jersey for the Rugby World Cup was launched at a glittering event in Cape Town on Thursday, with the 100 day mark to the start of the global showpiece fast approaching.
The launch of the iconic jersey is the culmination of months of hard work by scientists at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science in Kobe, Japan, in collaboration with the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Duane Vermeulen, Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks and Pat Lambie took part in an extensive testing programme in Japan to fine tune the final product. They were accompanied by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and other members of the management team.
The main aims in the design of the Springboks’ apparel were to reduce weight without compromising on strength. The jersey for the 2015 Rugby World Cup will be the lightest ever worn by South Africa, at 70 grams lighter than any previous jersey.
It also has smooth surface making it harder than ever before to keep hold of in the tackle, while an area which has seen significant development after player insight is the Super-Grip silicone which features on the chest of the jersey.
There is a method to the apparent ‘madness’ of Heyneke Meyer’s approach to the Springboks’ 2015 World Cup campaign.
Spending some time with the Bok mentor at a training camp in Cape Town this week, it became abundantly clear just how much preparation has already gone into South Africa’s campaign.
In fact the Bok coach even investigated the hotel beds the players will encounter during their stay in England in September and October – prompting media banter that the ‘Bok coach is sleeping on the job’.
However, even the massive 40-odd players at the 2 training camps – in Johannesburg last month and Cape Town this week – are part of a carefully orchestrated plan to ensure the Boks have the best possible chance of becoming the 1st country to win the Webb Ellis Cup for a 3rd time.
Meyer said the large squads are all part of his long-term plan, with a lot of the younger players that he can take forward.
Duane Vermeulen’s reported move to France appears all the more likely after the Springbok and Stormers No 8 rejected a contract offer from the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
Vermeulen would have been the highest earning Springbok had he accepted SARU’s offer.
His decision to reject the offer from SARU adds fire to reports earlier this year that linked him with a move to French club Toulon.
Andries Bekker’s Springbok future appears to be in the hands of his Japanese club, the Kobelco Steelers.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Tuesday had a 1-on-1 with the tall lock to gauge his interest in and suitability to returning to green-and-gold duty this year.
Bekker, 31, had made himself unavailable for Springbok selection when he moved to Japan in 2013.
Loose forward Warren Whiteley says there’s plenty of excitement in the Springbok squad following the team’s training camp in Cape Town.
The national squad gathered here this week for their 2nd training camp of the year.
While there were plenty of familiar faces running through the drills, head coach Heyneke Meyer called up several new players, who have shown great form during Super Rugby this season.
Whiteley, who made his Test debut for South Africa last year, enjoyed the experience.
“It’s always a massive honour and great experience being part of the national squad,” Whiteley said.
“One gets to catch up with the guys after months of Super Rugby, and start the preparations for what will be an exciting year ahead, including The Rugby Championship and World Cup.
“The World Cup is a massive occasion, which every player wants to be part of. So you can imagine the excitement among the players, especially guys like Cheslin Kolbe and Faf de Klerk, who have shown great form this season and I’m glad they’ve received reward for their hard work.
It was announced yesterday that Willie le Roux has signed for the Cell C Sharks for the 2016 season of Super Rugby, after agreeing to a deal that the Cheetahs were reportedly unable to match. Le Roux will play a short stint in Japan after the World Cup but will join the Sharks after.
Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron stuck mainly to the combinations that earned him a 2 – 0 series win in Argentina as he announced his team to start against Italy on Tuesday.
No 8 Hanro Liebenberg will lead out a Junior Springbok match-23 sprinkled with several players who also took part in last year’s event in New Zealand, where they lost by a single point against defending champions England.
Sharks prop Thomas du Toit will anchor the scrum and is 1 of the players that will participate in his 2nd successive tournament, as well as lock Abongile Nonkontwana (Blue Bulls) and Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks). Another survivor from last year, Joseph Dweba (hooker, Cheetahs), will play off the bench.
Theron opted for a strong forward pack while the backline has a settled look.
Warrick Gelant is also returning for his 2nd tournament in a row and the Springbok Sevens international starts in the No 15 jersey. Much is expected of the centre pairing of JT Jackson (Blue Bulls) and Daniel du Plessis (Western Province), in particular.
Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will be available and will be considered for the Springbok squad in 2 months’ time.
There have been whispers about whether Du Preez will play for the Springboks, and what his obligations are to his Japanese club. However the team manager of the Springboks Ian Schwartz cleared up any uncertainty over the situation.
Du Preez played no role in the Springbok’s 1st training camp, and is currently not playing any rugby, although, he has been in the country since March.
Schwartz explained that this is due to an agreement with his Japanese club Suntory, that keeps him away from national practices. Only however, until the international season begins in July when he will be free to be selected for the Springboks 1st match against the World XV on 11 July.
Du Preez is in regular contact with Springbok fitness coach Basil Carzis and, according to Schwartz, is “working very hard” to get into top shape.
Back in the Emirates Lions starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies at Emirates Airline Park, Elton Jantjies is enjoying one of his better seasons on South African soil.
The Johannesburg side are very much in playoff contention and Jantjies has become coach Johan Ackermann’s 1st choice pivot along the way.
A few rugby minds have now started wondering whether or not Jantjies has done enough to work his way into Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s World Cup plans. The smart money remains on the flyhalf slot going to either Handré Pollard or Patrick Lambie and while Jantjies has not ruled out any possibilities he chooses instead to let his performances do the talking.
“I can talk a big game but if my performances on the field don’t match up, there is no point in me saying that I want to go to the World Cup and be the 1st-choice flyhalf,” Jantjies said.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has revealed he has targeted the beginning of July to be back on the field.
If he achieves his aim, it will be an exceptional recovery from a total knee reconstruction after the painful injury he suffered in the match against Wales at the end of last season.
Since then De Villiers has been working tirelessly at rehabilitating the knee in order to meet the deadline, with things going a lot better than initially expected.
The Bok captain is already running again and hopes next month to resume team training before getting onto the field in early July.
Speaking at the Supersport Networking lunch at the Johannesburg Country Club, De Villiers was an optimistic man, and said if all goes to plan he will be fit and on the field again long before the final Rugby World Cup squad was picked.
“The recovery has gone very well. These days whenever I meet someone it’s always the 1st question,” De Villiers said.
It has emerged that a contractual dispute with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is the reason behind Vodacom Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe making himself unavailable for Springbok selection.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer earlier this week said Van der Merwe was “unavailable for international rugby at the moment”.
The reasons behind Van der Merwe’s unavailability were described as “personal”.
However, Van der Merwe and SARU are at loggerheads because the player feels he was done an injustice when Springbok contacts were awarded.
Unlike lock partners Eben Etzebeth, Victor Matfield and Pieter-Steph du Toit, Van der Merwe apparently did not receive a similar national contract.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is clear – the best 31 players need to go to this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Meyer began his 1st Springbok training camp with a bit of a stutter as no less than 19 of the 44 players invited to the camp couldn’t train with the Bok management. Add to that the Sharks who are overseas on tour, and there wasn’t too much training that could get done.
But despite that, the Bok coach used the time to reveal his World Cup plans to players, tell individuals what he expected of them and will use the remainder of the time to share calls, plays and get down to technical nuances for the players to take home as “homework” before they meet again in the 2nd camp in a few weeks’ time.
The final squad is only set to be selected at the end of August, when the chosen 31 will be revealed to the country for the showpiece tournament in England. But 1 thing is clear, while competition will be tough between players, only the best 31 in Meyer’s mind will be selected, meaning a number of top players may well miss out.
However Meyer has admitted that he hasn’t made up his mind yet, giving players the chance in the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition as well as the camps, to make an indelible impression on him.
And with that in mind, he may have an idea of the starting line-up, but Meyer believes beyond the starting 15, the other 16 places are still up for grabs.
This week, there is a lot of news, from various fronts, on the Springboks.
The Rugby Championship game times have been announced, as has the host city for the additional Springbok game against the Pumas in Buenos Aires.
News from this week’s Springbok Training camp is dominated by the amount of injured players at the camp as well as the news today that Flip van der Merwe has made himself unavailable to the Springboks in 2015 and also for the Rugby World Cup. The reports on the injury and rehabilitation of Springbok captain also comes under discussion, with the prognosis and likelyhood of him making the world premier Rugby World Cup competition very positive.
SARU also announced today that Rhino was appointed as equipment supplier of the Springboks.
He will soon return home to South Africa to focus on his family and his livestock farm, but life after rugby can wait a few more weeks. Bakkies Botha wants to go out in a blaze of glory with Toulon.
With a Rugby World Cup triumph in 2007, 3 Super Rugby championships with the Bulls and 2 European titles with Toulon, not to mention Tri-Nations, Currie Cup and Top 14 honours – few can match the Springbok 2nd row enforcer’s illustrious achievements.
But in the twilight of his career and savouring the prospect ahead of the “calmness of the bush”, Botha, perhaps befitting a deeply religious man, prefers to focus on the team, rather than his individual contribution.
Toulon, the Mediterranean port city he has called home since 2011, hope to be crowned kings of Europe for a 3rd successive year when they take on French rivals Clermont in the European Rugby Champions Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday.
“I’m really happy that I came to Europe to test myself in this league and I want to end my career hopefully making it into 2 finals (Champions Cup and Top 14),” said the 36-year-old lock.
Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer, has announced 2 sets of 44 players to participate in training camps in May and June in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively.
The squads include a total of 19 uncapped players, including rising stars Jesse Kriel, Vincent Koch, Cheslin Kolbe and Bongi Mbonami.
He has been keeping a low public profile during the 1st half of Super Rugby’s ordinary season … and it is probably just as well.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer must be scratching his head worriedly already over how to construct his national side for the 1st assignment of the 2015 Test season, against Australia in Brisbane on 18 July as part of a condensed Rugby Championship.
Presently several Boks are either injured, suspended or undergoing rest periods (the sudden pulling of Duane Vermeulen from the Stormers’ overseas tour after only 1 match has tongues wagging despite official statements that it was “always planned”), whilst other staple characters have suffered form dips in line with the general struggles of their sides in the local conference and overall.
It is difficult to envisage any SA team actually winning Super Rugby at this point – not the ideal state of affairs in a World Cup year, even if it is not always proved to be relevant — just as it is hazardous to predict which franchise will eventually top the ho-hum domestic pile.
It is true that a few additional players like overseas-based Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez and Francois Louw and a rehabilitating Pieter-Steph du Toit should brighten the Bok equation, fitness permitting, nearer the Test roster itself, and 1 or 2 outsiders like Stormers tighthead strongman Vincent Koch and some surprise-package Lions personnel have stuck up their hands.
Yet a look at the last Springbok line-up for a Test – the unpalatable 12 / 6 loss to Wales in Cardiff on 29 November9 last year – gives you an idea of Meyer’s quandary; things look considerably more unsettled than he would like.
3-Times capped Springbok Jano Vermaak is returning home to South Africa with a World Cup dream.
The 30-year-old, who has been a shining star for the revitalised French giants Toulouse in the Top 14, spoke from the city in the southwest of France.
He was quite open about his goals, although there remains some uncertainty about which team he will use as – hopefully – as a springboard to a World Cup spot.
“I am coming back to South Africa with the goal of giving myself a chance of possibly getting into the World Cup squad,” the 30-year-old scrumhalf said.
“At this stage I do not yet know which team I will be playing for in South Africa,” Vermaak said, adding: “I have a few options, but we’ll make that call in the next month or so.”
He said he simply can’t wait to be back in SA and will arrive after the completion of the French Top 14 season in May, or June if Toulouse make the play-offs.
That will give him 3 or 4 weeks of Super Rugby to have a crack at a World Cup spot.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and his SA Under 20 counterpart Dawie Theron recently renewed their BokSmart certification for a further 2 years.
Meyer renewed his certification in Pretoria last week, while Theron was joined by 3 members of the South African Rugby Union’s High Performance Mobi-Unit and Springbok coaching consultants, Pieter de Villiers, Louis Koen and Chean Roux, as well as Jacques Nienaber, High Performance Manager in the Rugby Department, in Cape Town earlier this month.
The biennial BokSmart certification is compulsory for anybody who wants to coach or referee rugby in South Africa at any level. The 3 Springbok assistant coaches, Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher and John McFarland, are certified until 2016 while Springbok consultant Richie Gray will renew his certification later this year.
BokSmart provides coaches and referees with the knowledge and skills to apply safe rugby techniques and basic medical and injury prevention practices.
The Springbok trio of Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Patrick Lambie are all expected to be rested for the Cell C Sharks’ showdown with the Western Force, in line with the agreement with SA Rugby over player management.
The 3 have earned the break after influential performances during the competition, and the good news that Frans Steyn was cleared to play means he may well take over the flyhalf position from Lambie, although the coaches may not want to break up his midfield partnership with JP Pietersen.
If the pair remain at No 12 and No 13 respectively, either Fred Zeilinga or Lionel Cronje will step into the number No 10 jersey, after solid performances for the Sharks XV in their Vodacom Cup clash on Saturday.
“It’s a huge boost that we will have Frans available, it provides massive stability to the team, especially due to the changes we will have with the resting of the Springboks,” said assistant coach Paul Anthony.
The Vodacom Bulls fully support the South African Rugby Union’s plan to rest key Springboks, but there won’t be a mass withdrawal of players at any stage.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the next 5 weeks will see the Bulls rotate the players in a calculated move that is in line with the SARU plan.
In a meeting between SARU, the national body’s CEO, Jurie Roux, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, the various franchise CEOs and coaching representatives it was agreed that franchise coaches – as far as possible – would rest key Springboks at various stages in the season.
Two principles were identified as being ideal:
- That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
- That certain Springbok players should have a number of weeks of rest during the tournament (2 to 4 weeks depending on each player’s personal needs and position and the franchise’s playing resources). Bye weeks are not considered as a rest week (although they do trigger a restart of the count of consecutive weeks), while injury weeks are ‘invisible’ (i.e. a player injured for 2 weeks during the 1st 7 weeks of the tournament would be regarded as having played 5 consecutive weeks at the end of week 7).
However, the Sharks have already bucked the system – with coach Gary Gold having said his outfit is in a different position to other SA outfits.
The Bulls have opted to take a different stance.