Springbok wing Bryan Habana has been ruled out of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup match against Fiji because of a knee injury, while lock Johann Muller is in a race against time after injuring his hamstring in training, team communications manager Andy Colquhoun confirmed on Wednesday.
“Bryan sustained a patellar tendon (knee) injury during last week’s match and will not be considered for selection,” said Colquhoun.
While there should be no problem finding a suitable replacement for Habana, the real concern for the defending champions is in the second row where Muller has joined Victor Matfield (hamstring) and Bakkies Botha (foot) on the list of injured players.
Muller could not complete Tuesday’s training session and played no part in the team’s preparations the following day, thus further highlighting the crises the Boks are having at lock.
Springbok coach Peter De Villiers had previously said that he would call-up a replacement lock “sooner rather than later”.
The reason why De Villiers had not yet made the call is because Botha has been able to practice with the team over the last two days.
On Wednesday the Bulls lock was able to run with the rest of the team.
As a final resort flank Willem Alberts could be asked to cover at lock which would open a place in the team for Francois Louw.
A decision on who will replace the injured Jean de Villiers also has to be made and early indications are that Juan de Jongh could earn his first World Cup cap on Saturday — if team management does not decide to give Frans Steyn a run at centre where he plays most of his rugby for French Club Racing Metro.
Butch James is another contender for the No 12 jersey as that is the position where he finished last week’s match against Wales. — Sapa
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