Springbok No 8 Ryan Kankowski has been declared fit but he is unlikely to be selected ahead of Pierre Spies for the Tri-Nations rugby Test against New Zealand here on Saturday.
Stephen Nell, Die Burger.
Kankowski’s participation in Monday’s training session was limited and Spies is expected to partner Schalk Burger and Juan Smith as loose forwards in the South African starting line-up.
“We are fortunate that we’ll be able to select the team from all 28 players in the squad when John Smit arrives,” Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said.
Kankowski was unconscious after being tackled in the recent Test against Italy but Rayaan Adriaanse, the SA team’s spokesperson, confirmed on Monday that the Sharks player had been declared fit.
Springbok captain and hooker Smit is expected to be in the run-on team even though he will arrive from France only on Tuesday.
De Villiers will probably retain Conrad Jantjes at fullback, even though Percy Montgomery is the only member of the squad who has been in a team that beat the All Blacks in New Zealand.
“Experience will always be important but that won’t be the determining factor when I select the team,” De Villiers said.
“The guys with the best attributes for the position and the best form will always be the most important factors to me.
“But when someone’s form is good and he has the experience and he shows that he still has the passion, it’s easy.”
An important aspect is that some new experimental laws will apply on Saturday.
The Test matches that were played in June will therefore have little bearing on the Tri-Nations competition.
Smit, flyhalf Butch James, lock Victor Matfield and Montgomery have been playing abroad for most of the year and they are therefore more accustomed to the old laws.
That could make Jantjes the favourite to be first choice for Saturday, in addition to his solid performances in the recent Test matches.
“There are a number of matters relating to the experimental laws,” De Villiers said.
“One must understand that you can no longer drive from lineouts, that the backs have to remain five metres behind the scrum and that you can’t kick from just anywhere on the field.
“This complicates matters a little but if the weather allows us to do so, we will be able to express ourselves in the way we intend to.”
De Villiers would like to see the experimental laws being retained.
“You want everyone involved in rugby to enjoy it. It will take a while to adapt. I just hope they do not change again this year.”
The coach is confident that players such as Smit, Matfield, James and Montgomery will have little trouble to adapt to the experimental laws.
“They are surrounded by players who are accustomed to these laws. Besides, they are brilliant players, and very professional. They would have studied the laws before they boarded the plane.”
It seems as if the SA team’s coaching staff are still thinking about the positions of loosehead prop and inside centre.
Tendai Mtawarira and Gurthrö Steenkamp are competing for the No 1 jersey and Adrian Jacobs and Frans Steyn are in the running for the No 13 jersey.
Odwa Ndungane may be preferred to JP Pietersen on the right wing but there should be more clarity on Tuesday.Tweet