Springbok captain Warren Whiteley is trying to get fit for the start of the Rugby Championship. Photo: Themba Hadebe, AP

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of the medical and conditioning assessment camp which was held over the past four days in Stellenbosch.

Coetzee described the camp as a great benefit for the Boks’ upcoming Rugby Championship campaign.

“The camp was a very good exercise and I am very pleased that we have achieved all our goals,” said Coetzee.

“The intervention was important because some of our players would have been out of action for up to 35 days, which is not ideal. The time we spent together this week gave us ample time to focus on our core skills and also our technical approach.

“We want to ensure we are rugby ready, well-conditioned and in a good mental space when the group assembles in two weeks’ time in Port Elizabeth.

“The challenges of the Rugby Championship are completely different to what we faced against France in June and preparation is once again crucial to our campaign.”

According to Springbok team doctor Konrad von Hagen, the medical and conditioning team had plenty of opportunity to evaluate the medical, fitness and conditioning status of the group of 14 players during the camp.

“The get-together was an excellent opportunity for the Springbok medical and conditioning staff to assess the group of players first hand,” explained Von Hagen.

The Bok team doctor confirmed that the groin injury of Springbok captain Warren Whiteley will not allow the No 8 to participate in the remainder of the Super Rugby competition. The competition concludes next Saturday with the Final.

“Warren’s injury requires time to heal and he will hopefully recover in time for the Rugby Championship, but at this stage we are taking it week for week in conjunction with the medical team of the Lions,” said Von Hagen.

Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard, meanwhile, is making good progress following his recent minor ankle procedure.

“Handré has started with some running exercises and he will continue with his gradual loading programme,” said Von Hagen.

Handré Pollard had a minor ankle procedure recently. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

“He took part in some training sessions and did extra rehabilitation and fitness exercises. We will continue to monitor his progress and his return to play on a weekly basis. I am also happy with the condition of the overall group.”

Apart from Steven Kitshoff (Stormers, who was not eligible for the Super Rugby playoffs), no players from the Lions, Stormers or Sharks, or players based abroad, were considered for the Stellenbosch camp.  All the players were part of either the Springbok squad for the Incoming Series or the SA ‘A’ squad last month.

During their stay in Stellenbosch, the Bok coaches also received a presentation from World Rugby’s Alain Rolland on the global law trials. Rolland is currently attending a World Rugby High Performance conference at SAS, the same venue of the Bok assessment camp. 

Coetzee also had some encouragement for the Emirates Lions, who face the Hurricanes in Johannesburg on Saturday in a Super Rugby semi-final.

“They did extremely well to finish in first place on the overall log and to overcome the mental challenge against the Sharks in the quarters. On Saturday, however, they will face another big challenge. I wish them well and know they are excited and well prepared for the semis.”

Players who attended Springbok camp

Handré Pollard, Lood de Jager, Jan Serfontein, Rudy Paige, Lizo Gqoboka, Jesse Kriel, Trevor Nyakane, Uzair Cassiem, Ox Nche, Oupa Mohoje, Raymond Rhule, Francois Venter, Lionel Cronjé, Steven Kitshoff.

SA Rugby