Un­lucky Jean-Luc

In­jury blow for Spring­boks

The Mercury - - SPORT -

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.

PIC­TURE: BACKPAGEPIX

Spring­bok loose for­ward Jean-Luc du Preez has been ruled out the end-of-year tour to Europe.

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