Rugby fans can start readying themselves for a number of surprises when the Springboks take to the field this year.
Jacques van der Westhuyzen reports on www.iol.co.za:
For starters, when the Boks kick off their 14 Test international season against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on June 5, expect to see up to 50 percent of the match day 22 made up of players playing abroad.
It has been learned that Bok boss Peter de Villiers, the South African Rugby Union and players’ union Sarpa have agreed to the fielding of overseas-based players when the Boks are in Europe this year.
This means De Villiers will be able to pick from the likes of BJ Botha, CJ van der Linde, Wikus van Heerden, Michael Claassens, Butch James, Derick Hougaard, Jean de Villiers, Gco-bani Bobo, Brent Russell and Frans Steyn when the Boks play Wales on June 5. These men have all played for the Boks before, so caps won’t be dished out willy-nilly.
“We’re very conscious of having to manage the players well this year, just 12 months out from the World Cup,” said Sarpa boss Piet Heymans yesterday.
“Players will be managed on an individual basis … and as this specific Wales Test comes just a week after the Super 14 final and a week before the Test against France, a number of regular Boks won’t be considered.
“Everything will depend on how much time individual players have spent on the field.”
New technology, being used in the Super 14, will allow De Villiers and his medical staff to monitor exactly how much time the Boks are spending on the field.
GPS devices sewn into the jerseys of the players will provide information on distances covered during a game, running speeds, heart rates, intensity of player impacts (g-force), and energy expended during matches.
“Taking all this into account, Peter will know exactly how and when to rest his players,” explai-ned Heymans.
It is believed that the Bok players who play all the matches in the Super 14, and those players in teams making the semifinals and final, will not be considered for the Wales Test.
Furthermore, it is understood that the Wales Rugby Union are comfortable with the fact that De Villiers’s team on June 5 will not be a full strength Bok side.
But there is no doubt it will be a formidable combination with a number of overseas-based players eager to impress the national coach.
Last November, De Villiers called in BJ Botha from Ulster and Jean de Villiers from Leinster to strengthen the injury-hit Bokss. Good performances from James, Claassens, Van Heerden and Botha could even persuade De Villiers to consider them for the World Cup next year.
The Bok touring squad for the Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland in November will also include a number of overseas-based players, to allow senior Boks time off ahead of the demands in 2011.Tweet