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JOHANNESBURG — While South African rugby fans will be consumed by Super Rugby playoff action over the next three weeks (that’s if one of the three local teams left in the competition get to the final…), Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has some planning to do for the upcoming Rugby Championship. The Boks will play 6 Tests between August and October – home and away against Argentina next month, followed by a trip to Australia and New Zealand in early September, and then home Tests against the Wallabies and All Blacks later that month and early October. He’s assembling a squad of players not involved in the Super Rugby playoffs to check fitness levels. A key player will be Bulls flyhalf Handré Pollard who missed the entire 2016 season through a knee injury, and managed just six Super Rugby games before picking up an ankle injury. That kept him out of the remainder of the Bulls’ Super Rugby campaign as well as the SA “A” team which played the French Barbarians. But he’s thought to be at the end of his rehabilitation programme. The problem for coach Coetzee is Pollard’s lack of game time. Would he be prepared to introduce Pollard back into top flight rugby in a Test against the unpredictable Argentines? The assessment camp in Stellenbosch might give him some clues. – David O’Sullivan
Experienced flyhalves Handré Pollard and Lionel Cronjé are amongst 14 players invited to a Springbok medical and conditioning assessment camp, which will be held in Stellenbosch next week.
Thirteen of the 14 players are from the three South African franchises not involved in the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs, while Steven Kitshoff of the DHL Stormers is also on the list, as he is not eligible for the knock-out stages of the competition.
Apart from Kitshoff, no players from the Emirates Lions, DHL Stormers or Cell C Sharks, or players based abroad, were considered for the camp. All the players were part of either the Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series or the SA ‘A’ squad last month. The camp will be held from Monday 24 July to Thursday 27 July 2017 at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS).
“The purpose of the camp is for medical updates and to ensure all the players who are in the frame for Springbok selection are well-conditioned and rugby ready when we assemble for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship on Tuesday 8 August 2017 in Port Elizabeth,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
“Apart from our players involved in the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs, all of the players invited to the camp will have been out of action for more than a month when we face Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, so we need to keep on working with them.
“The purpose of the camp is for medical updates and to ensure players are ready for Rugby Champs,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) July 19, 2017
“I was very encouraged by the performances of our players in the last few rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby – all of the Boks in action played very well and we’re hoping they will bring that form with them when we assemble for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
“Our depth will be tested in certain positions, one of which is flyhalf. With Pat Lambie out for at least the next three months, we have to ascertain what the progress is with Handré’s injury and what form he is in, while Lionel has grabbed his opportunities this year and is really playing very well,” added the Bok coach.
Players invited to Springbok assessment camp: Handré Pollard, Lood de Jager, Jan Serfontein, Rudy Paige, Lizo Gqoboka, Jesse Kriel, Trevor Nyakane (all Vodacom Bulls), Uzair Cassiem, Ox Nché, Oupa Mohoje, Raymond Rhule, Francois Venter (all Toyota Cheetahs), Lionel Cronje (Southern Kings) and Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers).
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