Injury blow for Springboks
Jacques van der Westhuyzen
IN SPITE of losing Jean-Luc du Preez to injury yesterday and not being able to select the likes of Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel in a disrupted season, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is confident he has all his bases covered at loose-forward for the team’s end-of-year tour.
Sharks man Du Preez became the latest Bok loose-forward to suffer injury this season, the 22-year-old being ruled out of rugby until next year after he broke his ankle during Saturday’s Currie Cup final against Western Province.
It is a big blow to the Boks, who face Ireland, France, Italy and Wales in back-to-back games starting in Dublin next Saturday. The 34-man squad leave South African shores in two groups on Friday and Saturday respectively.
Coetzee will today name a replacement for Jean-Luc, with the favourites to get the nod being Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Kwagga Smith or maybe even veteran Duane Vermeulen, who returned to action for his French club Toulon at the weekend.
Carr and Smith, because of their versatility, must be the front-runners, but whoever Coetzee settles on will most likely fill a spot on the bench as it appears the Bok coach intends starting the tour with the same loose-trio that did duty against New Zealand at Newlands.
On that day Siya Kolisi – the only constant figure in the Bok backrow this year – played at openside flank, with Pieter-Steph du Toit excellent as the team’s No 7 and Louw at No 8.
“It’s sad for Jean-Luc, who has broken his ankle because he has done well for us up to now,” said Coetzee yesterday.
“He’s settled in nicely and has been a part of this building of our pack. I’m confident I’ve made up my mind who I want to come in but I will follow the right processes and name the player, as early as Tuesday.
“I’m happy and pleased with the loose-forwards we have here though. The balance is there; it’s now just a matter of making sure I pick the right loose-trio on matchday.”
Coetzee hinted strongly though that he would go with the men who did duty against the All Blacks in Cape Town.
“Siya, Pieter-Steph and Francois did a good job that day, so we’ve got some foundation there. Then, all we need to do is look at who is next in line, and we’re covered with Uzair Cassiem and Dan du Preez who can play No 8 and Oupa (Mohoje) who plays No 7,” Coetzee said. “Pieter-Steph makes a massive difference with his lineout ability, and then Siya and Francois can do duty as opensiders. I’m happy with what we have.”
The only other worry in the Bok camp at the moment is captain Eben Etzebeth, who hurt his ankle at a training camp last week. But Coetzee is adamant he will be ready for next week’s Test. “He’s been in a moon boot to stabilise the ankle, but should return to training by Thursday,” he said.
Meanwhile, Coetzee revealed he will announce later this week when current Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan will leave the Bok set-up to take up his new position as director of rugby at Munster. “Johann is here now and part of our planning. I’ll let you know in the days ahead what the position is regarding him,” said Coetzee.
Springbok loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez has been ruled out the end-of-year tour to Europe.