3-month Bis­marck in­jury blow for Spring­boks

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

MONTPELLIER— Montpellier’s South African hooker Bis­marck Du Plessis has been ruled out for up to three months af­ter tear­ing a mus­cle in his chest, sources in the club con­firmed on Mon­day.

Du Plessis, 32, will have to un­dergo surgery a scan on Mon­day re­vealed, and will be out for be­tween two to three months.

Capped 79 times for the Spring­boks, Du Plessis picked up the in­jury in Saturday’s 41-13 home win against Pau.

He will miss sev­eral big games for the club in­clud­ing their Euro­pean Cup opener on Oc­to­ber 15 at Northamp­ton.

Montpellier are fifth in the Top 14 af­ter four games.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to know whether he would have been rein­tro­duced any­way, but the side-lin­ing of im­pos­ing hooker Bis­marck du Plessis for roughly the rest of the year sees the Spring­boks de­nied the ser­vices of an­other po­ten­tially very handy el­e­ment for their north­ern hemi­sphere tour in a few weeks.

There is also a ris­ing dan­ger of the na­tional side be­ing left badly ex­posed for ex­pe­ri­ence in an im­por­tant po­si­tion should any mishap in the re­main­der of the Test sea­son rule out cur­rent cap­tain and wearer of the No 2 jer­sey Adri­aan Strauss, who re­tires from the in­ter­na­tional fray at the com­ple­tion of 2016. Apart from their re­main­ing Cas­tle Rugby Cham­pi­onship obli­ga­tions, the Boks play Tests against Eng­land, Italy and Wales dur­ing Novem­ber, with the first-named clash at Twick­en­ham (Nov 12) al­ready gen­er­at­ing a fair amount of hype in the Bri­tish me­dia. The stal­wart Du Plessis, now based with Jake White’s Montpellier, boasts 79 Bok caps and even at his rel­a­tively ad­vanced age of 32, still seemed a par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive op­tion for the an­nual north­ern trek, given his ex­tra fa­mil­iar­ity at first­class level with slow, grind­ing win­ter con­di­tions in Europe now. Cur­rently, the Boks lack a bit in “grunt” and abil­ity to stay con­sis­tently on the front foot and camped in favourable ar­eas of the park, whilst Du Plessis is also a cham­pion turnover-cre­ator – an­other area where Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s labour­ing charges aren’t ex­actly boss­ing foes de­spite some du­bi­ous protests to the con­trary at times.

But it was re­ported on Mon­day that the ro­bust com­peti­tor had torn a chest mus­cle, an in­jury rul­ing him out for up to three months, which also re­ally means good­bye to any chance of Bok con­sid­er­a­tion for the rest of their 2016 agenda.

Bear­ing in mind that it is also not clear yet whether an­other sea­soned, abra­sive Bok for­ward, Toulon’s Duane Ver­meulen, will be fit again from knee surgery in time for the Euro un­der­tak­ing, South Africa are in­creas­ingly likely to tackle the tour – also fea­tur­ing a Bar­bar­ians date – stripped of pos­si­ble key fig­ures in what could turn out to be “arm wres­tles” in chilly, wet con­di­tions.

But Bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee is also un­der ex­tra pres­sure now to grant more game-time to the two hook­ers below Strauss in the present squad peck­ing or­der, in case his em­bat­tled skip­per is sud­denly laid low him­self.

Should that hap­pen, next cabs off the rank Bongi Mbonambi – cur­rently the Test bench hooker – and Mal­colm Marx would be thrust into more front­line ac­tion with pre­cious lit­tle (in the case of the sturdy Lions prospect none) knowl­edge of the de­mands at the pre­mier level of the game.

Storm­ers front-rower Mbonambi has had two des­per­ately short-lived gal­lops as a late sub­sti­tute, in­clud­ing six min­utes in the 23-17 re­verse to Aus­tralia last Saturday when he man­aged to look zesty in open play be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle blew.

As a mere 22-year-old, the Ger­mis­ton-born Marx – widely con­sid­ered a rookie ver­sion of Du Plessis phys­i­cally -- could also ben­e­fit from at least some ex­po­sure to Tests be­fore the end-of-year mis­sion comes around.

Do­mes­tic-based ad­di­tional pos­si­bil­i­ties at hooker for the Spring­boks are also that bit more limited for Coet­zee and his ad­vi­sors now, given the dread­ful Achilles ten­don rup­ture suf­fered in the Currie Cup by luck­less SA ‘A’ hooker Scarra Ntubeni ear­lier this month – he will be out for what has omi­nously been de­scribed as “a long time”.

The sit­u­a­tion raises just the pos­si­bil­ity that the Boks may be tempted nearer the Euro­pean trek to re­visit the vastly ex­pe­ri­enced cre­den­tials of 35-year-old Sara­cens livewire Schalk Brits.

While an en­tirely dif­fer­ent an­i­mal to some­one like Du Plessis in play­ing style, he was part of the Boks’ World Cup 2015 squad in Eng­land, and although many will have felt he was among sev­eral cus­tomers the na­tional team may well have “moved on from” in 2016, he has not of­fi­cially retired, to Sport24’s knowl­edge, from Test ac­tiv­ity af­ter 10 caps stretch­ing back to 2008.

Yet you still suspect that a bet­ter call might well be, in the longer-term in­ter­est, for the Boks to give a more mean­ing­ful crack against the world-lead­ing All Blacks on Saturday to Mbonambi, at the very least …— Sport24.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.