Cape Town – The Springbok team doctor has sounded an advance
warning, even as injuries currently take a toll on the national team’s plans,
that next year is a “real concern” in that regard.
GALLERY: Springboks in training
Craig Roberts told a Bok media briefing here that the
unusually packed schedule this year was likely to impact on the 2013 programme
from an absenteeism point of view.
“Last year was a little different, being a World Cup year. Some
of the guys were injured and rested and placed on rehab programmes (ahead of
the tournament in New Zealand).
“This year the long season has taken its toll. You can see
with the injury levels we’re getting.
“My biggest worry is next year. If we sustain this amount of
rugby, next year is the real danger year.
“With 2011 having been a RWC year and also no end-of-year
tour scheduled, the guys had quite a nice break and a lot of them also had a
proper pre-season for the first time.
“So this year is relatively alright -- though obviously some
18 weeks of Super Rugby is a lot of rugby to have been played, and now we go
straight into the Castle Championship so it doesn’t stop for many guys.
“But next year is my real concern in terms of the fatigue of
Several Bok players are out of action ahead of the
Championship, which starts at Newlands against Argentina on Saturday week.
Meanwhile coach Heyneke Meyer also emphasised at the briefing
his own regret at players often not getting enough time for essential off-field
conditioning because of the volume of competitive rugby.
“I don’t want us to be seen to be offering up excuses; it’s
the same for other teams. We need to be mentally tough.
“But I also believe – and this is what we are doing – that
the players’ health always comes first, so we’ll manage guys individually.
“We need to get on, though, with letting the players know
what they’re in for (with the Boks). When they wear the green and gold they
need to put their bodies on the line.
“There’s always been a perception that for end-of-year
tours, for instance, you should rest some players and so on.
“I’m a big believer in the fact that there are only 12 Test
matches a year and your best team should play 12 Tests.
“I don’t believe that you should rest people when they’re
representing their country ... it’s almost like saying people should rest at
“But what we will definitely do, if players aren’t fit, is (guard
against jeopardising) their careers for the sake of three games (in the
northern hemisphere). It’s a fine balance, but I don’t believe in resting guys
at national level. The best team should play.
“Besides, if you speak to the players, they want to play for
their country. There aren’t many who want to sit out end-of-year tours.
“This is a new coaching staff and there’s a new captain and
we’re still all finding each other, and I need to use each Test, especially in a
first year, to establish my best team and grow as a team.”
The Boks play six matches in the Castle Rugby Championship
and also tackle Ireland, Scotland and England at year’s end.
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing