Johannesburg - Wednesday the Springboks will leave South Africa without 13 of their first choice players, but that does not mean the men who were selected to go on the five week rugby tour of Britain and Ireland are not in good spirits.
“I can tell you the one thing that made me really excited is how excited the senior players have become to go on this tour,” said Springbok coach Peter de Villiers on Tuesday.
On Monday more bad news was announced by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) when officials confirmed Western Province captain Schalk Burger and centre Juan de Jongh, had been removed from the squad due to injuries.
Burger fractured a rib in his team’s 30-10 loss to the Sharks in the Absa Currie Cup final while his team-mate, Juan de Jongh, suffered a hairline fracture to his left ankle.
Having already lost star centres Jaque Fourie and Wynand Olivier to injury, Adriaan Jacobs received a late call-up to the national squad.
It is also unclear whether Jean de Villiers (groin injury) will be playing as he is also not been able to train after the physically demanding final.
Subsequently selecting a backline for Saturday’s Test against Ireland may still give the Springbok coach a few sleepless nights.
“We will have to make the best of a bad situation, but it is pleasing to see the positive attitude with which the players approached our training sessions,” said the Springbok mentor.
“We have a lot of guys that can play in more than one position so now it will be about sitting down with that headache to see what will be the right combinations for this game.”
Burger’s place in the squad was filled by Blue Bulls fetcher Deon Stegmann who was part of the 38 man training group last week.
After leaving Stegmann out of the original touring squad to accommodate in-form Sharks flank Keegan Daniel, De Villiers said he believed some things happen for a reason and that he was expecting great things from the player who plays a similar brand of rugby to Heinrich Brussow.
“We are taking a guy who is like Heinrich Brussow on the floor and I think we can use him to good effect in the team,” said De Villiers.
Sharks flank Willem Alberts (calf) was also absent at Tuesday’s practice session and a call on his – and Jean de Villiers’ availability - will be made on Thursday when the team is announced.
“This is what happens to me, last year it was all the locks, the year before it was the hookers and props and then Bryan (Habana) and JP (Pietersen) at the same time and now the centres, so we will have to give the new guys a chance to step up to the plate and show the call on them was justified.”
With 13 players unavailable -- John Smit (neck), Jaque Fourie (foot), Wynand Olivier (groin), Andries Bekker (back), Fourie du Preez (shoulder), Heinrich Brussow (knee), JP Pietersen (hamstring), Gurthro Steekamp (arm), Butch James (shoulder), BJ Botha, Januarie, Burger and De Jongh -- South Africa's depth will be tested ahead of next year's World Cup in New Zealand, where they will defend their global title.
Backs: Gio Aplon, Bjorn Basson, Jean de Villiers, Francois Hougaard, Bryan Habana, Adi Jacobs, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn, Morne Steyn.
Forwards: Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Keegan Daniel, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Alistair Hargreaves, Ryan Kankowski, Victor Matfield (captain), Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies, Deon Stegmann, Adriaan Strauss, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe.