Meyer: JP injury a massive blow

2012-08-07 07:49
Heyneke Meyer (File)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says wing JP Pietersen's injury is a massive blow for his side ahead of the Rugby Championship.

Pietersen fractured his thumb in the Super Rugby final in Hamilton on Saturday which will sideline him for the next two months.

Meyer said Pietersen, who starred consistently for the Sharks and the national team against England just over a month ago, will be hard to replace in the light of his "awesome" form this year.

"Right now I'm feeling quite nervous after the news that JP won't be playing," said Meyer.

"He's been awesome this year for the Sharks, and against England he was outstanding. It is a massive blow for the Springboks."

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed Pietersen had broken a thumb in the Super Rugby final and required surgery.

"JP will have surgery on Wednesday, and the rehab after an operation like this takes six to eight weeks," Roberts said.

As a result, Juan de Jongh has been thrown a lifeline by Meyer and will join the squad.

"We have decided to call up Juan to provide midfield cover," said Meyer.

"It is an area where we may be a bit short now that JP is not available.

"JP was always going to provide cover for us at outside centre.

"We were also thinking that JJ Engelbrecht and Francois Hougaard can both be used on the wing, particularly with Bjorn Basson out for another six weeks.

"Juan has also been in good form for the Stormers and was one of the players unlucky to miss out on initial selection.”

There was more bad news coming out of the Bok camp on Monday evening.

Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth has damaged a hip cartilage and he is flying to Johannesburg on Tuesday to consult a specialist.

Roberts said he cannot predict what the outcome of the Tests on Etzebeth will show.

Meyer sprang a surprise when he said he was considering a call-up for Bakkies Botha, who is presently playing in France.

Hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle has been nursing a knee ligament sprain and has taken a break from training while following a rehabilitation programme.

"These injuries are huge setbacks, and since some of our best players are overseas, it won't be easy finding replacements," said Meyer.

"There is a lot of character in the Bok camp, and I believe it is a good squad, a quality squad.

"I chose three hookers so that when you're travelling overseas, and you lose one, there will be cover.

"I don't want to be in a position where I have to fly out specialists to join the team."

The Boks start their Rugby Championship campaign against newcomers Argentina at Newlands on August 18.



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