Springboks at rest? Forget about it ...
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CAPE TOWN - Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids says the success of the much changed team against Argentina over the weekend was thanks to the mentoring roles of the players from the British & Irish Lions series who had been given a break.
Davids said the 10 mostly younger players who were drafted into the team had been mentored and coached by the senior players they were replacing. After the physically draining series against the Lions, coach Jacques Nienaber needed to freshen up his starting line-up but nobody in the greater squad went on holiday, so to speak.
“We don't rest players,” Davids explained.
“The players who are not starting assist in preparing those who are. That is how the squad gets better. The team always comes first and all the individuals in the squad have different roles to perform to help the starting team to play better.”
This teamwork and on off the field explains how the youngsters coming in last week were able to hit the ground running and were immediately competitive.
“It is about continually broadening the experience of the players in the group so that those stepping in are equipped to react positively, and we saw that in how the news guys comfortably handled the step up against a quality Pumas team. It is all about feeding off each other in training,” Davids said.
There will be a little tinkering with the match 23 for the return match against the Pumas this weekend, with bruiser Eben Etzebeth certain to get a deserved break, but the team that won 32-12 last Saturday will mostly be retained.
Davids did confirm, though, that the Boks have been hit by injury in certain areas.
The loose-forward stocks were hard hit during the abrasive Lions series and last Saturday there was the misfortune of an injury to Marco van Staden in the last minute of the game.
The burly Bulls flank had come on as a substitute only to take a heavy knock at the death of the match, which has necessitated the call-up of Sale Sharks utility-forward Jean-Luc du Preez.
Du Preez's twin brother, Dan, was called up after the third Test against the Lions and featured off the bench at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
Veteran No 8 Duane Vermeulen is still working his way back to full fitness after missing the Lions series because of an ankle injury and he has company on the sidelines in fellow loose forward Rynhardt Elstadt.
Davids also explained that Jean-Luc will not be available for selection for this week because he is not fully over a knee complaint, and is essentially cover for the Boks' trip to Australia, where they will first play two Tests against the Wallabies and then two against the All Blacks.
“We are a bit thin in terms of scrumhalves and loose forwards,” Davids said. “A couple of scrumhalves are struggling with injuries (Faf de Klerk and Herschel Jantjies), that is why a guy like Jaden Hendrikse came in and got his first cap this weekend. I thought he did really well.
“And it is why Jean-Luc has come in at loose forward. Duane and Rynhardt are still busy with their rehab and will only be available when we go on tour for our Tests against Australia and New Zealand.”