Rugby Championship

Boks, AB's holding thumbs

2014-09-30 22:00
Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - While South Africa sweat on the fitness of Duane Vermeulen and Bryan Habana, New Zealand have injury worries of their own ahead of their final Rugby Championship clash in Johannesburg on Saturday.

All Black lock Brodie Retallick, who brings physicality to their pack to match the Springboks, is a doubt after picking up a head injury in the series-clinching 34-13 victory in Argentina last weekend.

"Brodie went off the field after receiving a knock to the head.

"He appeared OK immediately after the game and he has travelled with us.

"But we will have to look at him after training and see how he is feeling," assistant coach Ian Foster told reporters on Tuesday.

Also in a race to be fit is prop Wyatt Crockett, who received a cut against the Pumas.

"Neither of those players have been cleared officially as yet," Foster said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand number eight Kieran Read said he hoped Vermeulen does recover from a rib cartilage injury sustained in the Boks 28-10 win over Australia on Saturday.

"I would be a bit disappointed if Duane didn't play as he is a top man and one of the best players in the world, and you always want to test yourself against the best," said Read.

"He is a massive player for them and leads the charge.

"He makes a lot of hit ups, he gets them going forward and all in all is just a typical brute of an African."

The All Blacks say they are also preparing for a Springbok side that will run the ball more from the team they edged 14-10 in wet conditions in Wellington earlier in the competition.

"They certainly are throwing the ball around a lot more now and the guys out wide have good feet," fullback Israel Dagg said.

"Cornal Hendricks is particularly fast and has been playing really well.

"So we are working together to get our defence in order for this week.

"But we do love to throw the ball around as well so it will be about taking opportunities."

Dagg also hinted that the South African conditions suited the All Blacks more than their own home turf.

"The games between these teams in South Africa, where the playing surface and conditions suit the type of rugby we like to play, tend to be quite spectacular and I am sure Saturday will be no different."


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