With CJ van der Linde certain to be missing from the team for Saturday’s final Vodacom Tri-Nations clash with Australia in Johannesburg, the Springboks were on Tuesday boosted by the news that Bismarck du Plessis will be available for selection.
Gavin Rich writes for SuperRugby that the combative hooker was cleared of possible cartilage damage by a scan on his swollen knee on Tuesday morning, and although he did not take a full part in training at Wits University in the afternoon, and spent much of it on the sidelines with a big brace strapped to his leg, Du Plessis will be part of the team for the Coca-Cola Park fixture.
“Bismarck is 100% fine, the scan showed no cartilage damage and although we will manage him this week, he will be ready to play,” said Bok manager Andy Marinos.
Nonetheless, young Blue Bulls hooker Chiliboy Ralapele, who captained the Boks in their one-off match against a World XV in Leicester in 2006, was called in on Tuesday to act as cover for Du Plessis during the practice, with Adriaan Strauss doing most of the work as the first choice hooker when the pack did a live scrumming session against the Lions under-20 team.
With Brian Mujati also absent through illness, and the other anticipated front-row forward for the Wallaby game, loosehead Beast Mtawirara, it was debatable whether the Boks would have got anything out of the exercise, particularly as the poor young Lions looked overawed and cowed by the much bigger Bok pack.
Marinos expects Mujati to be back on Saturday, and he should be joined in the starting front-row by Mtawirara and Du Plessis, meaning that only Van der Linde, who trained at loosehead on Tuesday to help his teammates out, will be missing.
“Brian just has a touch of flu and we thought we would allow him to rest today as a precautionary measure,” explained Marinos.
Marinos said that the management intended to appeal Van der Linde’s four week ban for dangerous play, but he said the best he expected was for the sentence to be reduced and it was highly unlikely the prop would be cleared to the extent that he could face Australia.
The bad news for the Boks with three days to go to kick-off is that Bryan Habana looks unlikely to be available for selection.
“Bryan is not used to hamstring injuries and he is not confident that it will be ready. This is one of those injuries where you have to listen to how the player feels,” he said.
Frans Steyn was also not in the mix on Tuesday as he continues to rest after the head injury he suffered while playing as a replacement at Absa Stadium last weekend, but his Sharks teammate Odwa Ndungane participated fully in training and would seem the smart bet to play right wing against Australia, with Jongi Nokwe continuing on the left.
The way the Boks trained on Tuesday it looked as though Pierre Spies will continue at No 8, so retaining the same loose-forward balance that many critics thought was questionable in the Durban match.
Possible Bok team: Conrad Jantjes, Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Jongi Nokwe, Butch James, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield, Andries Bekker/Danie Rossouw, Brian Mujati, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawirara.Tweet