Boks must be rested for 2011

THE Springboks could enter the 2011 Rugby World Cup year with a few 2010 defeats as the best team might not be selected for all Test matches leading up to the tournament.

THE Springboks could enter the 2011 Rugby World Cup year with a few 2010 defeats as the best team might not be selected for all Test matches leading up to the tournament.

Experts at a media workshop in Johannesburg yesterday agreed that a number of standout players will have to be carefully managed in the next two years.

Springbok fitness and conditioning coach Neels Liebel and sports scientist Tim Noakes said this will be vital to ensure top players are fit and in peak condition for the World Cup in New Zealand in September 2011.

Noakes showed a series of graphs on how players used excessively in a season tended to either get injured or underperform the following year.

Liebel agreed that senior players like Victor Matfield, 32, Bakkies Botha, 30, and John Smith, 31, should still be available for the 2011 World Cup, but on condition that they were properly managed. Noakes warned that John Smith collapsed in 2008 after a strenuous season. Fourie du Preez, he said, played 1835 minutes of rugby this season - the equivalent of 24 matches. Du Preez still had three Tests on this year's outgoing tour ahead of him.

"It is highly unlikely that he won't be injured next season," Noakes said.

He said the form of former Springbok centre Marius Joubert, after a season of 38 matches, went downhill to the extent that he never played for South Africa again.

"Heinrich Brussow has to be watched," Noakes said, along with Morne Steyn. All the players needed a single continuous break of at least eight weeks to recharge.

"Jake White was prepared, on our advice, to rest players for the away Tri-Nations series before the World Cup in 2007," said Noakes.

"The Springboks lost both the away Tri-Nations Tests against Australia and New Zealand, but that gave our players the chance to go into the World Cup rested, motivated, uninjured and in peak physical condition," he said. - Sapa

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