Double injury worries set Boks back

Veteran hard man Bakkies Botha will almost certainly miss South Africa’s rugby World Cup opener against Wales on Sunday, with the Springboks further hurt by an injury concern over winger Brian Habana.

Thirty-one-year-old Botha has been suffering from a chronic Achilles’ tendon problem that flared up again at training earlier this week.

“We’re a little bit worried about Bakkies, he’s our major concern,” assistant coach Dick Muir told reporters. “It’s his Achilles and being a big man he obviously takes a lot of pressure in that area.

Photo gallery: Defending the title

“He’s so important for us for the remainder of the competition that we wouldn’t take any chances with Bakkies.

“We’ll take it week by week, but I think he’s going to be out this week unfortunately.”

The world champions will definitely miss the starch Botha — who has said his toughest opponent has “not been born yet” — provides in their pack and at the breakdown and the aerial danger at lineouts and restarts he provides in combination with vice-captain Victor Matfield.

Danie Rossouw is likely to replace lock Botha in the starting lineup when the team is named on Friday.

Muir said there was also an injury concern over winger Bryan Habana, who had not taken a full part in training this week, leaving the highest try scorer at the 2007 World Cup feeling frustrated.

“Bryan just wants to get on to the field and he’s been a bit frustrated this week by not being able to train full out and he’s certainly one of those players that puts in a lot of effort,” he said.

Habana drought
“He’s had one of those up and down years, where you see this outstanding player, and that’s what he wants to get back to,” Muir added.

Habana is tied with Joost van der Westhuizen for the most tries (38) for the Springboks and has been going through something of a drought, having not scored a try since the victory over Italy in East London in June 2010 — a run of 10 Tests.

While he hoped to break the record shortly, he was more concerned with the way he would perform in a team effort.

“I thought it would have happened a while ago,” Habana said when asked about the prospects of passing van der Westhuizen if selected for the Wales game.

“But yeah, if I do get chosen [to play] I would love to make a positive contribution to the start of our campaign.”

Chasing kicks
Part of the reason for Habana’s drought is undoubtedly the fact he has been forced to chase kicks by his inside backs in the past two years as the Springboks resort to a territory and pressure game rather than using the ball in hand.

The 28-year-old, however, said the tactics worked — leading them to the 2007 World Cup, a series win over the British and Irish Lions and the Tri-Nations title in 2009, and he doubted the Springboks would do anything much different on Sunday.

“I’ve been chasing a lot of kicks for a while now, so I don’t think that’s going to change quite a bit.

“I definitely think we’re going to play to our strengths, to what’s worked for us.

“It’s worked in the past so we’re not going to do anything drastically different to the last couple of years.” — Reuters

View our Rugby World Cup special report for the latest news, features, match reports and multimedia here.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

Watch it again: Ramaphosa addresses a locked down nation

President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to address the nation on the measures currently being undertaken to contain the coronavirus pandemic

The rule of law in times of crisis: Covid-19 and...

Under a state of national disaster, some rights may be suspended. But it is critical to remember that the Constitution itself is not suspended

Test backlog skews SA’s corona stats

With thousands of samples still waiting to be processed, labs are racing to ramp up testing to help the government gain a better idea of how prevalent Covid-19 really is

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories