Wellington - Danie Rossouw will make a worthy replacement for injured lock Bakkies Botha if the latter is unavailable for the Springboks' opening World Cup match on Sunday, according to Bok eighthman Pierre Spies.
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Botha, recovering from a recurrent Achilles injury, was in doubt as the Boks prepared to kick-off their title defence against Wales in Wellington, New Zealand, on Sunday.
Spies said that Rossouw would be more than capable of covering for his Bulls team-mate.
"Bakkies is a person you will always miss in his special way, but for us it is just important to keep the routine of the team going and I think we will have Danie Rossouw coming in if Bakkies is not ready," Spies said.
"Danie is also an exceptional player, but we will wait and see how the week turns out and hopefully Bakkies' foot will recover in time."
Rossouw's form in recent matches has not been as impressive as it was during this season's Super Rugby competition, in which he again proved to be one of the most prolific ball carriers in the modern game.
He is, however, still considered one of the most valuable, and underrated, players in the South African squad, and has proved to be one of the team's most reliable go-to players.
In contrast, Spies has yet to make his mark on the biggest stage of international rugby.
After going through a personal slump in form, Spies has recently started showing signs of the unstoppable force he had been in recent years.
Missing out on the previous World Cup because of a pulmonary embolism, with Rossouw ironically filling in for him at the back of the scrum, Spies said he was eager to get the tournament under way.
"It is almost unreal until you step off the plane and you are finally here," Spies said.
"Personally it is wonderful to be part of the World Cup setup and to represent your country on the world stage with all the countries involved.
"The vibe and atmosphere is wonderful and is much different to what we are used to, so it is exciting and we are looking forward to this tournament."
Spies' understanding of his role in the team setup, where he should link up with Schalk Burger and Heinrich Brüssow in a potent loose-trio, will be of vital importance to the Springboks' aspirations. Should the breakdown law interpretations during the tournament favour a more flowing game, in which playing into space becomes important, Spies is likely to thrive.
The 26-year-old said the team's ability to adapt to a referee's interpretation had been discussed.
"I guess we do (talk about that), but we can speak as much as we want, it is only about how the ref interprets it on the day," he said.
"We do speak about certain things we want to achieve during the game, but other than that it all comes down to what happens on the day and what is allowed and what is not."
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