Johannesburg - The Springboks’ hopes of a better performance in their Rugby Championship return match against Argentina were dealt a blow with the news that lineout kingpin Victor Matfield has not made the trip to Buenos Aires along with the rest of the side.
The supersport.com website reports, Matfield was spotted at Loftus Versfeld Tuesday doing rehabilitation on the cartilage tear that caused him to miss this past weekend’s game and it seems he may only be ready to play if his knee heals when the Boks make their trip to Perth to face the Wallabies in a fortnight’s time.
This means the Boks are likely to go into the Salta game this weekend with the same three locks they went into the Loftus game with, giving them another chance to impress.
Matfield was missed in the 13-6 win over Los Pumas in the driving rain, with Argentina disrupting the Boks normally solid lineouts, especially at the front.
It was hoped that he would return to the side this week, and coach Heyneke Meyer even intimated there would be a few changes among the forwards for the Salta game.
But it seems in the marathon 22 hour travelling session the Boks had to do, Matfield’s condition was omitted by the Bok management and no mention was made of the fact he would not travel along with the side.
Lood de Jager looks set to get another run at five this weekend in Salta, with Eben Etzebeth likely to return to the starting line-up and Bakkies Botha on the bench. The Boks should have a lot more lineout options as they are set to return to their more traditional lineup with a blindside flank slotting in, and not two opensiders as was the case at Loftus.
This means that Juan Smith, if he overcomes a hamstring strain, may well be in line for a starting spot, while Teboho Mohoje is the other option.
Both players will give the Boks a solid ball carrier and another option at the back of the lineout.
Warren Whiteley may well find himself on the bench to cover eight for the Boks and will give them another option in the second half.
The Boks will hold their first training session on Tuesday.