Nelspruit - The high-flying Springboks will reduce their work load in training this week after producing one of their most high-intensity performances under coach Heyneke Meyer in Durban on Saturday.
The 39 minutes that the ball was in play in the first Test against Wales was the longest it’s been active since Meyer became coach - almost 30 Test matches ago. The Boks also pulled off more than 130 tackles, while Wales completed over 200 tackles.
Bok team doctor Craig Roberts said several Bok players had hit “personal bests” in the five-try-to-one win.
“The average number of minutes the ball is in play in Test matches is between 30 and 32 minutes... last Saturday the ball was in play for 39 minutes. The work rate of the players was extremely high and for that reason we’ll cut back on the time we spend training this week.
“It’ll still be high intensity, but with such a big load we’ll reduce the time on the field.”
Roberts added it was quite surprising for such a high intensity game that there were no serious injuries going into the second Test against Wales this week.
Willie le Roux, the star of the show in Durban, didn’t train on Monday after hurting his thigh at the weekend but he should be fine come Saturday. Flyhalf Johan Goosen also sat out on Monday after taking a knock to his knee almost as soon as he entered the fray on Saturday, but Roberts quashed any suggestions the France-bound No10 would be sidelined again.
“It’s a little concerning as it’s the same knee that he had reconstructed, but he’s gone for scans and everything looks good.
“It’s actually settled down quite nicely so we’ll be able to take a decision on his participation this weekend later in the week,” said Roberts.
Bakkies Botha, who left the King’s Park pitch at the start of the second half on Saturday, should be fine for the weekend after he suffered inflammation of his Achilles and calf muscles.
“The more rugby we play the more exposed we’re going to be to injuries... it’s the nature of the game,” said Roberts. “There will always be bumps and bruises, so it’s crucial as to how one manages the players. The statistics show that, on average, there will be one to two injuries per game, so we’ve done okay this week.”
Jannie du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen also sat out training on Monday after being told to rest following the volume of rugby they’ve both had this year.
Conditions in Nelspruit have been hot and humid and they’re likely to stay that way until Saturday, but the Boks will be well adjusted to the lowveld air come Saturday’s mid-afternoon kickoff.
The Welsh, however, have opted to set up camp in Cape Town and will only fly to Nelspruit later in the week, something Roberts says isn’t ideal.
“The fields are heavy in the Cape; we experienced it two weeks ago before the World XV game.
“Training on those fields takes a bit out of the legs so, personally, I prefer training in dry conditions and where the players can get used to what they’ll encounter on match day.”