Injuries may force Div's hand
Johannesburg – The opportunity for Sharks' young sensation, Patrick Lambie, to play Test rugby for the Springboks in Dublin on Saturday looks promising, after injuries sowed more havoc in the Springbok camp on Monday.
When the Boks trained at Hyde Park High on Monday, Lambie and Morné Steyn took alternate turns practicing the flyhalf and inside centre combination.
This followed as a result of centre Juan de Jongh being withdrawn from the squad due to an injury and because there was still doubt over the availability of his WP centre partner Jean de Villiers.
De Jongh (ankle) and his WP captain, Schalk Burger (broken rib) are both unable to go on tour and have been replaced in the 30-man team by Blue Bull players Zane Kirchner and Deon Stegmann.
Bok coach Peter de Villiers said Stegmann could play a similar role to that which injured Heinrich Brüssow played last year.
The Bok coach's immediate problems are with a battered back row and his centre pairing.
The tour group has little time to prepare as they only leave for Ireland on Wednesday.
The coach is already without Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, De Jongh as well as Frans Steyn, whose French club, Racing Metro, will only release him after the Test against Ireland, according to the regulations of the International Rugby Board.
Steyn would be a logical choice for the number 12 jersey but the coaching team will now have to test other combinations.
De Villiers, the regular inside centre, was being treated for a groin injury on Monday and the Bok coach was clearly upset about the number of injuries.
"This is just my luck. Last year it was the locks and the year before that, the props and hookers. Now it's the centres. Fortunately we have various players who can play in many positions," said De Villiers.
This includes Lambie, seeing how he has played flyhalf, centre, and fullback for the Sharks.
The 20-year-old player was the Sharks' hero in their Currie Cup final victory over the Western Province in Durban on Saturday.
Although the Bok backline players were tested in various combinations, Lambie and Morné Steyn switched several times between flyhalf and inside centre.
Another player who was included in the group as an injury replacement, is Adi Jacobs, who is relatively sure of his place, especially if De Villiers doesn't recover in time.
Ruan Pienaar, whose club Ulster have made him available, also practiced at scrum half with Francois Hougaard.
Bryan Habana, Bjorn Basson and Gio Aplon could be the back trio.
Another one of the Sharks' new Springboks, Willem Alberts, couldn't practice on Monday due to a calf injury.
Keegan Daniel and Stegmann are apparently in line behind Ryan Kankowski, Juan Smith and Pierre Spies for a place in the team.