JOHANNESBURG - The Springboks are sweating on an injury suffered by captain Eben Etzebeth during a medical and conditioning assessment camp in Cape Town this week.
Etzebeth twisted his ankle during a training session and was sent for an MRI scan as a precaution. It revealed he has a low grade ligament injury, but according to the Springbok camp the lock forward should be available for the Boks’ first Test in Europe next month.
A 34-man squad will leave South Africa at the end of next week for four Tests, to be played against Ireland, France, Italy and Wales.
Etzebeth’s mishap will have coach Allister Coetzee a little worried following the second row forward’s strong showing over the season, and especially against the All Blacks last time out. He has also stood tall as the team’s leader in the absence of Warren Whiteley this season.
The squad for the trip up north will be named on Sunday and, injury permitting, Etzebeth will lead that side.
Eleven contracted Springbok players completed the four-day training camp in Cape Town on Thursday, with the likes of flyhalf Handre Pollard, Steven Kitshoff, Beast Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen all taking part.
Coetzee, whose team have lost only twice this season - to the All Blacks in Albany and Cape Town - but also drawn twice to Australia, expressed his satisfaction with the four-day camp.
“This group of players were last in action almost three weeks ago against New Zealand in Cape Town, so apart from the much needed rest, it is also very important that they are rugby ready when the full squad gets together next week in Johannesburg,” explained Coetzee.
The majority of the squad will train together next week, with the Europe and Japan-based members joining up with their team-mates the following week.
“The challenges are obviously completely different to what we faced against France in June and during the Rugby Championship. So the manner in which we prepare before and during the tour is very important," Coetzee added.
The Bok tour dates are as follows: November 11 (Ireland), November 18 (France), November 25 (Italy) and December 2 (Wales).