Broken Boks return overseas
Butch James (Gallo Images)
Pretoria – There may be unhappiness among some domestic rugby unions about the non-availability of their Springboks, but teams like Ulster, Bath and even Racing Metro are probably furious with SA Rugby.
Bath, who have made no secret of how important they consider Butch James to be for the English Premier League club, welcomed the player back with a seriously injured shoulder this week.
The same applies to Ulster, who cannot use Ruan Pienaar straight away because of a similar problem.
Racing Metro will probably also wonder what happened to the cheerful and confident Frans Steyn that flew to South Africa three weeks ago.
Bath coach Steve Meehan told the Bath Chronicle this week that he feared James would be out for a while.
James injured his shoulder while tackling an opponent against Australia at Loftus Versfeld and missed last week’s Test in Bloemfontein.
The injury is believed to be far more serious than was initially anticipated and James will consult two specialists inside the next five days.
“It’s the same shoulder that kept Butch on the sidelines for 10 weeks in January 2008,” said Meehan.
“He will see a specialist in Bath on Friday and another in London on Monday.”
Meehan said he was prepared for bad news, even though it means that he will be without James for a while.
Pienaar and BJ Botha were supposed to report for duty at Ulster on Monday, but former Sharks scrumhalf Pienaar will be out for at least another two weeks.
Botha was not considered for the home games in the Tri-Nations and was able to get some valuable rest when his “off season” was interrupted by Springbok call-ups in June and July.
He also struggled with a neck spasm, but the three weeks’ rest probably gave him the chance to shake it off.
Steyn, who missed the Test against New Zealand due to a leg injury, was not on form in the two Tests against Australia.
He should be able to play for Racing this weekend. It will probably be at centre, where he mostly plays for the French club.