Salta, Argentina – Victor Matfield and Willem Alberts will return to the Springbok fold this week for the trip to Australasia – and expect them and a few other senior Boks to be back for the Test in Perth next Saturday.
Matfield and Alberts missed both Tests against Argentina because of injury but they’re on track to be fit enough to board the plane to Australia on Saturday.
And, should they come through training without any glitches they will move straight into the starting team for the match in Perth, along with the likes of Morné Steyn, who came off the bench here on Saturday to help save South Africa’s blushes.
Bok boss Heyneke Meyer has had to rely on a few rookies in the last fortnight, but he said here after the Boks’ 33-31 win it was time to bolster the team.
“The youngsters need to learn somewhere, it’s the only way,” he said about blooding Damian de Allende, Handré Pollard and his young lock Lood de Jager.
“This has been a good learning curve for them, especially for Handré.
“But we now need to find our rhythm and get some momentum. There’s a good chance we’re going to go with the experienced guys going forward,” said Meyer, hinting at some changes for the Tests against Australia and New Zealand.
“I thought the youngsters did very well, Handré especially did some good things, but Morné has the experience and he showed it out there today (on Saturday).” Steyn kicked two conversions and a late penalty to help see the Boks home and he looks a certainty now to start in Perth.
There could also be numerous changes up front where the Bok front row looks in desperate need of a shake-up, while Matfield and Alberts’ availability will see further changes in the second row and loose-trio.
The weakness of the scrum is very worrying – something Meyer will be desperate to fix very quickly, while it has become clear that without Matfield in the side there are concerns at line-out time, too. Of course, it doesn’t help that Flip van der Merwe and Pieter-Steph du Toit are injured and Eben Etzebeth has just returned from injury. “A lack of continuity is my biggest concern at this stage,” said Meyer.
“One just isn’t able to plan properly. Each week brings new challenges, like players being available again, but others not. It’s really tough.
“We’ve had a difficult few weeks with the northern hemisphere guys only starting their season now while some of the local guys are coming off long injury layoffs and then you have guys who’re abroad and not available.”
The Boks will get together again on Thursday in Johannesburg and fly out to Perth on Saturday, where they will face the Wallabies a week later. Then it’s off to Wellington for the match against New Zealand before they return home for the two final matches of the competition, in Cape Town and Joburg. – The Star