Bismarck targets 1st Bok Test

2013-04-15 18:33
Bismarck du Plessis (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The sight of indisputably world-class hooker Bismarck du Plessis running fairly freely and even taking a bit of contact at Monday’s training camp was a welcome one for the Springboks and their supporters at Westerford High School here.

It was particularly gratifying because - almost inevitably for a short Bok exercise conducted slap bang in the midst of the Super Rugby campaign - an assortment of players in the enlarged group either did not take part in the practice session at all, or were clearly still a little stiff and sore after a pair of brutal derbies on Saturday.

Established wing JP Pietersen, for instance, was on crutches ... so his Sharks colleague Du Plessis looking a lot closer to battle readiness after his many months on the sidelines was a great plus amidst the sea of sidelined customers.

GALLERY: Springbok training session

He still has a slight limp at times following his knee surgery, but when he sprinted he appeared to do so untroubled and also did not shirk physical duties, even if this Bok session understandably stopped well short of being an outright “koppestamp”.

Coach Heyneke Meyer, in an informal chat with some journalists as he left the field after his official media briefing, revealed to Sport24 that the brawny front-row star was being earmarked for availability for the first Test of the 2013 season - against Italy at Kings Park on June 8.

In the interim, the Sharks hope to filter him into action at some stage during their looming overseas leg; it is unlikely to be in the New Zealand phase, but the pair of Australian games against the Reds (May 10) and Force (May 17) are more realistic targets.

The Durban-based team also have a home derby against the Bulls before the June Test window period, so that should provide ample opportunity for the 28-year-old Du Plessis - if anything, he seems to have only gained further upper-body strength during his layoff - to reacclimatise to high-level rugby.

Meyer did emphasise that in the absence of the Sharks favourite (he tore ligaments in the Castle Rugby Championship match against Argentina at Newlands last year), Adriaan Strauss had done an exemplary job for the Boks at No 2 and that Chiliboy Ralepelle was playing to a high standard again for the Bulls.

But he also made the point that Strauss, captain of the fairly high-flying Cheetahs, has been playing a lot of rugby in recent times - he is traditionally not the sort to come off the pitch early for his franchise - so having Du Plessis back in the frame for the earliest Bok engagements of the year is a pleasing likelihood.

Another powerhouse from the Sharks, blindside flank Willem Alberts, was also prominently involved in the exercise, suggesting that he, too, is not far away from Super Rugby and Test activity again after shoulder troubles.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  bismarck du plessis  |  rugby

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