Player welfare a priority for Boks in World Cup year

2019-03-07 10:32
Lood de Jager (Gallo)
Lood de Jager (Gallo)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says he is in constant communication with the country's Super Rugby coaches over how best to manage his players.

2019 is a World Cup year and South Africa's charge at that tournament, which gets underway in September, will always be the priority. 

There is still, however, the matter of this year's Super Rugby competition as the tournament tries desperately to keep its head above water and reach its former heights. 

The future of Super Rugby is uncertain, with broadcast deals, struggling crowd attendances and the possibility of some South African sides abandoning the tournament for greener pastures in Europe all combining to paint a picture of a product that is at a crossroads. 

The pressure on Super Rugby coaches is also very real, with South African franchises looking to challenge for title honours in 2019. 

There have only been three rounds of Super Rugby so far in 2019, but already Erasmus has a couple of serious injuries to consider. 

Lood de Jager's World Cup participation is very much in doubt after a shoulder injury on Bulls duty left him needing surgery, while Lions captain Warren Whiteley is also sidelined with a pectoral injury. 

Erasmus says that a plan is in place to ensure that those on the Springbok World Cup radar are not overplayed this year.

"We went and sat with each franchise and each head coach and worked out a player management plan with each player on our radar," he said.

"It focuses on game management, regeneration weeks and the work-ons in the week. We've sat with every single coach about every single player who is possibly on the radar and at this stage every single coach has worked with us."

Injuries at franchise level will be something that Erasmus will have to deal with throughout the season and leading up until the World Cup.

"When the pressure is on and it comes to playoff matches and there have been a few injuries, I think that's when we will be tested in the system," he said.

"But there has not been one coach who said he isn't going to help. All of them back us in terms of their World Cup planning.

"Warren and Lood did not get injured because they were overplayed. It's only round three. When we get to round seven, then we can see what players are being overplayed."


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