Springbok coach Peter de Villiers believes that the decisive all-South African derby between the Sharks and Bulls in Durban on Saturday would be a ‘virtual Springbok trial’.
Writing in his regular column on the SA Rugby website, De Villiers said he was excited about the arrival of the British and Irish Lions touring team in South Africa later this month.
And his first real opportunity to work with the country’s top players will be when a South African XV will assemble in Johannesburg on Monday, May 25 – signifying the start of their preparations for the eagerly-awaited visit by the B&I Lions.
The SA XV, a Bok back-up team, will face a Namibian Invitation XV in Windhoek on Friday, May 29.
De Villiers, in a recent interview with rugby365.com, revealed that the Namibian game is a great opportunity to introduce some new faces to the Bok culture and also trial some back-up players.
However, before he gets there, he will be hoping that not too many of his frontline players are injured when the Sharks and Bulls go head-to-head in Durban at the weekend.
“It is amazing how quickly time has flown,” De Villiers said in his column.
“It’s as if it was only yesterday that the Super 14 kicked off with South Africans’ hopes high about how their teams may fare.
“Now, we are just a week from knowing who the semifinalists will be with the Bulls very well positioned and the Sharks not having the luxury of being in control of their destiny.
“The two will face off in Durban this weekend in what I expect will be a very physical encounter. They always are when our SA sides go up against each other.
“Some may go as far as calling this a virtual Springbok trial with the two franchises having so many players in contention for places in the Springbok squad.
“I will watch the contest closely and hold thumbs that we suffer no more injuries at such a critical stage of the season.
“In recent weeks there have been injuries to some key players, but we are confident that they will have recovered in time for the Lions Series. The only player who is definitely out is Conrad Jantjes, who has a broken leg. I visited him in hospital last week and he was bitterly disappointed, but in fair spirits.
“That’s the game of rugby I suppose.
“The B&I Lions’ Tomas O’Leary and Tom Shanklin are probably feeling similar emotions after being forced out of the tour by injury. O’Leary’s injury has paved the way for Mike Blair to join the squad, which is no surprise at all.”
De Villiers also revealed that he will announce the Springbok squad after the Super 14 Final on May 30, with the matchday 22 for the first Test against the Lions in Durban on June 20 to come from this selection.
“As usual there has been – and will continue to be – much speculation over who will be in and who will be out,” De Villiers said.
“The beauty of sport is that everyone has their opinion but our aim is to pick the strongest possible squad that we believe has what it takes to beat the Lions in the three-Test series.”
Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet