Losing 50% of their outstanding World Cup second row quartet would be sheer bad luck for the Springboks, especially with the British and Irish Lions having such brilliant lineout forwards as Alun Wyn-Jones, Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes in their ranks, but forwards coach Deon Davids is hopeful that RG Snyman and Lood de Jager will still be able to feature against the tourists.
While Franco Mostert and Eben Etzebeth are fit and a great combination, Snyman, apart from the bad burns he suffered in the Munster fire-pit incident, had the misfortune to suffer another knee injury last month just when his rehab from a rupture of his ACL ligament was nearing completion, while De Jager suffered a particularly nasty injury when he broke his tibia in December, also damaging his ankle and knee in the process.
“It’s an ongoing process with RG and Lood. They are busy with rehab, and hopefully they can join us in the next couple of weeks to come,” Davids said from Bloemfontein, where the Boks are preparing for the Test season, on Wednesday.
“All the overseas players will be here on Sunday and they will have a thorough assessment so we can see where they are exactly medically. We will know then if they will take part.
“Obviously the lineouts are going to be key against the Lions, but it doesn’t only end with the locks; the combination of the loose forwards needs to be added in there too.
“Wyn-Jones and Itoje are world-class, but Lawes is also a very good lineout athlete. It’s going to be an interesting battle because if we have all our locks available, they have proven their worth at the World Cup.”
The Springbok forwards coach also confirmed that they were keen on having Duane Vermeulen, currently recovering from ankle surgery, in the camp even if just in an off-field capacity.
That Vermeulen is an inspirational presence can be seen by the Bulls pretty much turning into cows in his absence, and the man of the match in the 2019 World Cup final is certainly a talisman for the Springboks as well.