Springbok star Pieter-Steph du Toit will recover from a midweek head injury and be available for the first Test against the British and Irish Lions, South Africa rugby director Rassie Erasmus said on Thursday.
The flanker reluctantly left the field during the second half of a South Africa A win over the tourists in Cape Town on Wednesday after taking a knock to the head tackling Elliot Daly.
“Not allowing Pieter-Steph to return was a precautionary measure,” stressed Erasmus. “We thought it would be stupid to let him back on the park when we know the real Test match is only 10 days away.
“He will definitely be fit when the real one starts,” said Erasmus, referring to the three-Test series on consecutive Saturdays from July 24.
Erasmus, who was the head coach when South Africa won the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, said there were concerns about fullback Willie le Roux and number eight Jasper Wiese.
“I think Willie has a hamstring that is a little bit sore. Jasper hurt his ankle near the end of the match. I think only those two guys are concerns at this stage.”
Erasmus hopes Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Handre Pollard, Makazole Mapimpi and Francois Steyn, who have tested positive for Covid-19, will be available for the first Test.
He believes injured Lood de Jager and fellow lock RG Snyman, who is recovering from a skin graft operation, have a good chance of being considered for at least some of the Tests.
Erasmus says outstanding loose forward Duane Vermeulen is a doubtful starter for the first international and it is “touch and go” whether he will be considered for the others.
“The big question is always match fitness –- you saw last night how some guys who had not played for a while struggled with the intensity toward the end.
“I think a guy like Alun Wyn Jones, who has been out for a while, will also struggle,” Erasmus said of the Wales lock who has rejoined the squad after a remarkably quick recovery from a shoulder injury.
Lions coach Warren Gatland said on Thursday that if the original tour captain plays at least 20 minutes against the Stormers on Saturday, just two days after arriving, he will be considered for the first Test.
“I believe Duane will struggle too, but if you have the right combinations and the right substitutions, maybe go again for a six-two split, then you can counter things like that,” Erasmus said of the likely balance of forwards and backs on his bench.