Bok World Cup prop worries ease

South Africa coach Jake White said on Wednesday that injured prop CJ van der Linde will be fit to face Fiji in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Van der Linde had picked up a knee injury and had been considered a doubtful starter for Sunday’s game at the Stade Velodrome.

That would have given White a major selection worry with tighthead specialist BJ Botha already out of the competition with knee ligament damage.

”CJ will be fine for the weekend,” said White, who would have been doubly relieved as the arrival of replacement tighthead Jannie du Plessis from South Africa, called in after the loss of Botha, had been delayed.

”He had to wait for a visa. We only told him on Monday, so he should be arriving on Thursday,” said the coach.

White was also delighted in how the World Cup draw was panning out.

Scheduled quarterfinal opponents Wales were knocked out in the first round while France’s failure to beat Argentina and the exit of Ireland has meant the Springboks will face either the Pumas or Scotland in the semifinals should they get past Fiji.

”If you had told me a couple of years ago that our last three games could be Fiji, Argentina and the World Cup final, I think anyone in South African rugby would take it,” said White.

”We’ve never lost to Argentina or Fiji, so we’ll stick to what we’ve done in the past.”

In contrast, tournament favourites New Zealand must take on France in their quarterfinal and then face either Australia or England for a place in the October 20 final.

”If New Zealand have to play France then Australia of course it’s going to take its toll more than having an easier run into the final,” said White.

”One thing about New Zealand is that they have a bigger bench than other sides, but on the starting 15 it must have an impact.”

White believes the Marseille crowd will be backing the underdogs of Fiji on Sunday but hopes the Springboks can also get the fans behind them as the game wears on.

”That has been happening for four weeks in a row — against Samoa, England, Tonga and the United States,” said White.

”That’s part of the psyche of the World Cup. If you wear the underdog tag it gets you the support of the crowd, but if you play well the crowd swings and comes on to the winning team.”

South African players are looking forward to playing at the Stade Velodrome claiming the venue reminds them of Cape Town and their Newlands ground.

”I couldn’t ask for a better set up. It’s just like being in South Africa,” said winger Bryan Habana.

”We’re looking forward to a big crowd. I think the vibe and the support should be unbelievable.” — AFP



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