Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
1 minute read
21 May 2014
6:30 am

Boks thin in second row

Rudolph Jacobs

With fiery lock Eben Etzebeth, a doubtful starter for the Springbok Tests next month, national coach Heyneke Meyer might be forced to spread his net wider.

FILE PICTURE: Eben Etzebeth of South Africa during The Rugby Championship match between South Africa and New Zealand at Ellis Park on October 05, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Etzebeth has missed the entire Stormers Super Rugby campaign with an ankle injury and even though he has started running again, his provincial coach Allister Coetzee believes he is still three to four weeks away from full contact.

This will bring veteran locks like Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha back in the picture and even the young Cheetahs second row Lodewyk de Jager for the clash against the World XV at Newlands on June 7 and the first Wales Test in Durban on June 14.

Matfield, Etzebeth and De Jager are all part of the 36-man Bok training squad who will convene in Durban on Sunday for a three-day camp.

But Botha is still in France where he has club commitments with Toulon, while other contenders like Pieter-Steph du Toit and Franco van der Merwe are on the long-term injury list.

“The message to every player in this training squad is clear – everyone must accelerate in each area from the first moment we are together as a team, and that inclusion in this squad is no guarantee of selection,” said Meyer.

“It looks like most of the guys are improving weekly and a few new players have put up their hands, which is good to see with the first match of the season, against the World XV in Cape Town, only a few weeks away.”

If Meyer’s medical team agrees with the Stormers medics, it could very well lead to a Bok lock combo of Flip van der Merwe and Matfield for the World XV game with De Jager coming off the bench, while the Stormers’ Michael Rhodes or the Sharks’ Stephan Lewies wouldn’t be bad options either.