CAPE TOWN – Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux is confident about the players he called up to provide cover for injured backs Damian Willemse and Muller du Plessis.
Western Province flyhalf David Coetzer and Sharks No 8 Phendulani Buthelezi joined the Junior Boks in France today after Willemse suffered a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for four to six weeks, while Du Plessis will be out of action for two to four weeks with a gluteal muscle injury.
Roux opted to call up a back and forward as they have sufficient cover in the backline with centre Rikus Pretorius and wing Sihle Njezula returning to action in the coming weeks.
Willemse sustained the injury in their World Rugby Under-20 Championship match against Ireland on Sunday, and Du Plessis made it a double casualty in the same match.
Buthelezi and Coetzer both featured in the Junior Boks’ warm-up matches - Buthelezi played in all three matches on the UK tour and against Georgia in Stellenbosch, while Coetzer played against Wales and England on tour.
“It is never good when players suffer injuries,” said Roux.
“In Damian’s case particularly, if we really had to, we could probably have strapped him and played him in one of the playoff games. But if one looks at the bigger picture, it is better for him as a player and for South African rugby that he takes a break and does proper recovery so that he can be 100% ready to play again.
“He has had a very high workload this year at a high intensity, and although his injury is a big loss, it is better that he recovers properly so that he can return to action soon.”
Chean Roux added: "If one looks at the bigger picture, it is better for Damian and for South African rugby that he takes a break and does proper recovery so that he can be 100% ready to play again. He has had a high workload this year at a high intensity." @Springboks pic.twitter.com/pAQ9txoRun
On Coetzer and Buthelezi, Roux said: “It is certainly a positive to gain players like David and Phendulani.
“They have been in SA Rugby’s Elite Player Development system for a while now, and they were with us on the UK tour, so they know exactly what to expect from us and they will slot in with ease.”
The Junior Boks will face hosts France in their last pool game on Thursday after beating Ireland 30-17 at the weekend.
Just like in their opening match against Georgia, another second-half step-up was required to secure the victory.
And Roux acknowledged that they’ll have to make a few changes in terms of performance.
“I think we played in patches, but our scrums were good. We usually have a very good lineout, but for some reason it didn’t function. So there are small changes we need (to) make and I am sure we will rectify that for the game against France,” he said.
With the match against France kicking off at 9pm on Thursday in Narbonne, Roux said they would adapt the training schedule in the next few days to ensure that the players adjust accordingly.