‘Cheslin Kolbe not a guy we will rush’: Bok coach hopeful Lood de Jager will also be ready for All Blacks
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CAPE TOWN – While Cheslin Kolbe did train in Australia on Wednesday, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said the star wing wasn’t quite ready to play yet – but he is hopeful that the No 14 will be fit for the 100th Test against the All Blacks next week.
Kolbe told Independent Media from Australia last week that his fitness results were looking “positive” after taking a knock to his leg during practice, and that he would be working hard to be able to take on the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday (9.05am SA time kickoff).
The 27-year-old, though, was not included in the match-23 announced by Nienaber on Wednesday, with No 5 lock Lood de Jager also ruled out due to concussion.
Kolbe’s thrilling ball-in-hand exploits were missed in the 28-26 defeat to the Aussies at the CBUS Stadium in the Gold Coast last Sunday.
His replacement, Sbu Nkosi, had few opportunities to have a go at the Wallaby defence, and endured a frustrating evening as he was often blocked by his opponents when chasing up-and-unders.
“He ran quite well today on the side of the field, kicking and stuff like that. He’s not a guy that we will rush, and we will wait,” Nienaber said on Kolbe.
“He hasn’t done any team training yet, and the moment he’s got full range and full strength, and happy with his running – and physios and medical team are happy with his gait while he’s running, his stride and those things, then we will introduce him into team trainings. Then we will follow the return-to-play protocol.
“At the moment, he is busy with the return-to-training protocol, and when he finishes that, he can start joining us with team training. Cheslin is an experienced guy, and we have an experienced medical team, so we will take guidance from them.
“All we can do as coaches is hope that he will be available next week and the week after – we wouldn’t have kept him if we didn’t think he would be ready within the next two weeks.
“But again, in saying that, rehab is a funny thing. You build and build, and the moment a player – the load is too much and he gets pain again, then he will probably step down a level. It’s not something that you can say the injury is this and he’s going to be ready on that date.
“Projection tells us that he will be available for selection within the next two weeks, but it’s up to his recovery.”
Nienaber was a bit more positive on De Jager’s diagnosis, but was also adamant that Marvin Orie can handle the pressure of starting a Test match.
“Lood sustained a concussion, and it normally takes seven days if everything goes well with the protocols. So, with the six-day turnaround, he will miss it by a day, and I am sure he will be up for selection again for the All Black Test match,” the Bok coach said.
“Lood’s experience is the first thing I think that will come to my mind in my head. Lood has played 50 Test matches, and Marvin has only played a handful (six). That’s probably the biggest thing, that we lose experience there.
“But in saying that, Marvin is an experienced lock. He’s got a lot of first-class and Super Rugby caps, and he’s been in that position and played with Eben (Etzebeth) at the same school, Tygerberg, so they know each other well.
“That’s why Marvin is on the tour – we trust him as a player, and looking forward to what he can bring to the party.”