Meyer battles injuries ahead of Bok opener

29 May 2014

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has been dealing with numerous injuries to players ahead of his team’s first test of the year against a World XV at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday, 7 June.

On Wednesday, it was confirmed that lock Eben Etzebeth, who has missed the entire Super Rugby season thus far, will have to undergo approximately three more weeks of rehabilitation on an injured foot before he can be considered for selection.

‘A major setback’

“Eben’s situation is a major setback as he’s been one of our best players in the last two seasons,” Meyer said at the Springbok training camp in Durban.

“We’re continually monitoring his injury, because he really wants to play for the Springboks next month. However, he is still young and has a highly promising career ahead and his welfare is the most important to us.”

Etzebeth was one of 10 players who took no or little part in the field sessions at the Springbok training camp in Durban, which concluded on Wednesday.

“We evaluated Eben’s injury at the camp and he did not take part in any of the field sessions as we are managing the process of his return to the field,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.

“We’ve been in discussion with his franchise, his rehab specialist and the foot specialist who operated on him last year. We’re happy with his progress and will work closely with Western Province to ensure he gets back on the field without any risk of further aggravating the injury.”

Training camp injury list

The other players who missed training sessions at the camp, were Frans Malherbe (prop), Schalk Burger (loose forward), Willem Alberts (loose forward), S’bura Sithole (centre/wing), Frans Steyn (utility back), Juan de Jongh (centre), Johan Goosen (flyhalf), Bismarck du Plessis (hooker) and Duane Vermeulen (No 8).

Malherbe is struggling with a significant concussion, which he picked up in a Vodacom Super Rugby match a few weeks ago. As he’s not met the criteria of returning safely to playing, he did not participate in any of the training sessions.

Burger suffered a knock to the neck in the DHL Stormers’ last match, against the Toyota Cheetahs. As he was still experiencing some stiffness in his, he was withdrawn from training as a precautionary measure.

Alberts and Sithole both picked up grade one hamstring strains while playing for the Cell C Sharks against the Blues last weekend. Their injuries were treated and managed at the training camp.

Steyn has been suffering from a chronic knee dysfunction, which has been managed by the Cell C Sharks and upon a request from his franchise, the load on his knee was limited by keeping him out of training.

De Jongh did not train on Monday as he suffered from a bout of flu, Goosen had some stiffness in his neck on Tuesday, while the workloads of Du Plessis and Vermeulen were managed during the training camp.

‘Incredibly important’

“Player welfare is incredibly important to us,” said Meyer.

“We’ve been working closely with the franchises and have taken the decision not to take any risks with players carrying injuries at this camp.

“Our medical team worked very hard at the camp, performing medical assessments on all the players and ensuring they get the best possible treatment on behalf of the franchises, as four of them are still playing Vodacom Super Rugby this weekend.

“A final decision on the involvement of all the injured players will be taken later this week, before we announce the final squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series on Saturday.”

Out of contention

Twelve players who were involved with the Springboks last year are already out of contention for the four tests in June. They are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers (knee), Scarra Ntubeni (foot), Chiliboy Ralepelle (knee), Frik Kirsten (neck), Pieter- Steph du Toit (knee), Franco van der Merwe (ankle), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Louis Schreuder (hand), Pat Lambie (bicep), Gio Aplon (elbow) and Jaque Fourie (ankle).

SAinfo reporter