Boks' injuries are small ... very small
The Springboks have some small injury concerns.
The afflicted players also happen to be the two smallest members of their Rugby World Cup (RWC) squad in Cheslin Kolbe and Herschel Jantjies.
The two livewires have had to rein themselves in during practice‚ performing their drills outside of the rough and tumble of the main group.
Coach Rassie Erasmus reassured‚ however‚ that the two game breakers will be ready for battle when the Boks play their quarterfinal Sunday next week.
“Cheslin has that ankle injury he picked up against Italy‚” the coach reminded. “He wasn’t available for the last game. He is still nursing that.
“We are hopeful he will be training fully on Monday. There is a very good chance he will be available. I would say 80‚ 90 percent.
“Herschel has a light hamstring strain but he finished the game. At this stage it [him not training] is precautionary.
“It is one of those where you are a little nervous. You only have three scrumhalves. We want to make sure he has more recovery time. Hopefully on Monday he will be ready to go‚” said Erasmus.
He was then asked of a likely scenario should Jantjies be forced to go home.
“Herschel won’t go home. It is not that bad an injury. Cheslin would have been a nice option. We have good scrumhalves.
“I know Ruan Pienaar is currently playing very well back home. The difficult thing for the players who were in the mix in South Africa is that there is no Currie Cup rugby but the Pro 14 guys are playing.
“Obviously the guys who are playing abroad are playing now and that was why it was so easy to bring Damian Willemse in from Saracens and a guy like Thomas [du Toit] was training [with Toulouse]‚” said the coach.
Josh Larsen visited the Boks’ change room after the match to apologise to Thomas du Toit. This is what rugby is all about. Thanks Josh and well done to @RugbyCanada on your RWC campaign, and thank you for a great game of rugby!#StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/y0R2RSbJYC— Springboks (@Springboks) October 9, 2019
The other player who is not operating at full tilt is loose forward Francois Louw. He started the Springboks’ last match against Italy at No 8.
“Flo has a few bumps and bruises‚” said Erasmus‚ almost chuckling.
“One knee is swollen a little bit. He is at that age where after every game it takes a little bit longer (to recover).
“We are in game four now. He’ll be fine‚ we are just managing him a little differently than the other guys.”
Despite losing prop Trevor Nyakane and centre Jesse Kriel along the way‚ the coach is pleased with where his team is at on the fitness front. Form-wise‚ however‚ he was less assured.
“I wouldn’t say this team is where I want them to be form-wise.
"After the New Zealand game we tried not to look at the scoreboard. We worked on things that we knew would be important come quarterfinals.
“From experience the guys have of previous World Cup tournaments and big matches we tried to apply that in games against Namibia‚ Canada and Italy. That last one was a crunch game for us so it was a bit of a trial run for us. “
Erasmus noted that in some games they mauled well‚ in others they scrummed well but that they are yet to put together a complete performance.
They have more than a week to fine-tune before they meet Ireland‚ Japan‚ or maybe even Scotland in the quarters.