It was a fairly low-key start to the Springboks’ training for the Tests against the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday, when John Smit’s team assembled in Fourways.
SAPA reports that the 10 Bulls players in the Springbok squad were given the week off, following their heroics when they won the Super 14 Final 61-17 against the Chiefs last Saturday.
Schalk Burger, Deon Carstens and Frans Steyn also spent the entire training session with the physio.
Ruan Pienaar sat out of the session with his left ankle being treated.
The Bulls will join up with the squad in Durban next week, where they will prepare for the opening Test on June 20.
The session was spent on light training and some skills.
Neels Liebel, the Boks’ conditioning coach, was quite up-beat about the fitness levels in the squad.
“Ruan is on the road to recovery and is undergoing rehabilitation. But he will be fit by the time we arrive in Durban. Schalk and Deon are also still doing rehabilitation and they will also be fit by next week. The rest of the guys are fit and in good nick,” said Liebel.
Captain Smit said the first training session was good, although the entire team was not there.
“The Bulls put in the hard work while we were off, so they have a break this week while we are working. By next week we’ll all be on the same page, though.”
Of the rucks, a facet clearly regarded as very important by the Lions, Smit said that he could not say now what the intensity of the Boks at the breakdown would be, as they had not played yet.
“At international level the effectiveness of the breakdowns involves an effort from No 1 to No 15. It’s not just the flanks that want to be menaces at the breakdowns and steal ball. For now we can only look at the Lions [and what they're doing].”
Smit said he thought the Lions did well in the last 15 minutes.
“We mustn’t get too excited about their first two games. It would have been presumptuous of us to think they would click in the first game and I’m sure they felt the same way.
“They had a few tough sessions at home and it would have taken its toll. But the longer they are together and get a feeling of their surroundings, the better they will get.”
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers agreed with Smit.
“When we went to the UK after the Currie Cup last year, in which all the guys played for their home unions, the synergy was not there in the first game. We are helping the Lions by allowing them to have six games under the belt before they meet us.”Tweet