Muller on the bench for clash against Fiji

South Africa’s second-row forward crisis has been compounded ahead of their Rugby World Cup match against Fiji on Saturday, with flanker Francois Louw replacing injured lock Johann Muller on the bench.

The South African Rugby Union said in a statement on Friday that Muller had failed a late fitness test on his hamstring injury ahead of the Boks’ second Pool D match in Wellington, New Zealand.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said team management had planned for such an eventuality and Willem Alberts would act as lock cover among the replacements.

“It’s not an ideal situation, but that’s tournament rugby,” De Villiers said.

“We knew this was a possibility from earlier in the week so we have made our plans.

“It’s a long tournament and we have to be sensible and there was no point risking making Johann’s injury worse.”

Veteran lock Victor Matfield had already been omitted from the team while recovering from a hamstring injury, and Bakkies Botha was selected in the run-on XV despite the Bok medical team stating earlier in the week that he was not responding well to treatment for his Achilles injury.

Springbok team: Pat Lambie, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Frans Steyn, Odwa Ndungane, Morn Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brssow, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, John Smit (captain), Gurthr Steenkamp. Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Pienaar, Juan de Jongh. — Sapa

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