South Africa can pay a heavy price in next year’s test series against the British and Irish Lions unless their core of top players are afforded a rest of six to eight consecutive weeks.
Stephen Nell writes for Die Burger that was the warning on Wednesday from respected sports scientist Prof Tim Noakes.
He was approached for comment by daily newspaper Die Burger following former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones’s comment that Bok wing Bryan Habana simply needed three weeks on a beach and another three to four weeks of intensive speed training to regain his form.
“I think three weeks are too little. Bryan has to rest for six to eight weeks,” said Noakes.
“I recently spoke to him and he told me the longest he has rested without interruption since 2004 is for a period of two weeks.”
Noakes is convinced the Boks’ disappointing form on their tour of Britain is partly down to the fact that the players shouldered a heavy workload the last few seasons.
“I definitely think the players are tired. They started very well against Wales and then faded. There can be no other reason than the players being tired and pacing themselves,” said Noakes.
“We won the World Cup last year because we had the 15 best players on the field when we needed them.
“Jake White (former Bok coach), the Bok medical team and I worked with the goal that we should have the best 22 players available for the World Cup final.”
Noakes therefore believes it was a masterstroke by South Africa to rest their key players during the away leg of last year’s Tri-Nations tournament prior to the World Cup.
This year, however, top Boks even played regularly in the Currie Cup, when Noakes believe it was actually the ideal time to rest them.
“I can’t understand why the Boks should play in every game in the Currie Cup. It jeopardises South Africa’s chances of success in Europe,” he said.
“When you rest the players, you usually only reap the benefits the following year. We are now paying the price for last season’s success.”
Noakes is concerned that the price could be very high indeed if top Boks don’t get meaningful rest before the Lions tour.
“The guys that played more than 25 games this year and still have a Super14 coming up could be very tired by the time the Lions come,” he said.
“There could be injuries. If you lose only two or three of the eight world class players in your midst, the scale could swing in the Lions’ favour.”Tweet