Bad break for Steenkamp
Gurthrö Steenkamp (Gallo)
Pretoria – As if Springbok coach Peter de Villiers does not have enough problems already, he is now without his top loosehead prop.
Gurthrö Steenkamp, who established himself as the first-choice No 1 in the Springbok team, is out for the rest of the rugby season after breaking his right arm at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It was Steenkamp’s first Currie Cup game for the Blue Bulls after he had participated in the conditioning programme with the contracted Springboks.
Steenkamp broke his arm in the second half of the game against Western Province and left the field in a lot of pain.
“Both bones in the forearm are broken,” Blue Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Sunday.
“Gurthrö underwent an operation on Saturday night and everything went well. He will be sidelined for between six and eight weeks.”
The news is a blow for De Villiers. Steenkamp’s performances in the Bok jersey saw him mentioned by an increasing number of experts as South Africa’s player of the year.
De Villiers is already without captain John Smit for the tour.
Smit has had a neck operation and will definitely not be able to tour when the team travels to Dublin for the first Test against Ireland.
Fortunately for De Villiers, the problems that Tendai Mtawarira had with his citizenship status have now been resolved.
Mtawarira, who was not picked for the early Tests this year, has also been part of the conditioning programme and should therefore be fresh for the tour.
He should play for the Sharks against WP on Saturday.
CJ van der Linde could also be considered at loosehead, but his ability to play both sides of the scrum may well see him utilised as a substitute in the tests.
De Villiers could also use Heinke van der Merwe. All indications are that he is excelling at Leinster. Deon Carstens, who is playing for Saracens, is another option.
The Bok coach could reward local talent, though. With Wicus Blaauw – who could have been considered a contender - injured, De Villiers may decide to pick Free Stater Coenie Oosthuizen. The youngster is playing very good rugby and would benefit a lot from such a tour.
It is probably just a matter of time until the fiery Free Stater wears the Green and Gold.