Finn Russell (Getty)
Newcastle – Scotland will be without the services of their gifted young flyhalf playmaker Finn Russell when they tackle the Springboks in a World Cup Pool B match at St James’ Park here on Saturday (17:45 SA time).
9 things you didn't know about Fourie du Preez
Fourie du Preez is the 56th Springbok skipper. But who were 1 to 55?
Although the absence of the 23-year-old, already among the young standouts of the tournament in the first half of the group phase, will only be officially confirmed when the Scots announce their side later on Thursday, it is already being reported here that Russell is out.
The Scotsman newspaper (www.scotsman.com) says that Russell “looks set to lose his battle to be fit” after wearing a moon boot for several days since his right ankle injury suffered in the triumph over the United States.
“It is expected head coach Vern Cotter will now turn to Russell’s Glasgow team-mate Duncan Weir to take over at stand-off (No 10).
“Without Russell’s creative influence, the Scots will find it hard to break down the Springboks’ defence.”
If Scotland do fall back on 24-year-old Weir, considered trusty but less mercurial than Russell – who would have been an unknown quantity to the Boks, having not yet opposed them – he will be earning his third appearance against South Africa.
He has found the going tough each time: first as reserve flyhalf in a 28-0 reverse to the Boks at Murrayfield in 2013, and then as starter in the 55-6 roasting in Port Elizabeth in June 2014.
That match in the Friendly City also marked the sparkling Bok debut of their starting flyhalf on Saturday, Handre Pollard.
Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende,
11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane
Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger (vice-captain), 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de
Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor
Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Willem Alberts,
21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim
Visser, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 David Denton, 7
Blair Cowan, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 WP Nel, 2
Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid
Substitutes: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alasdair
Dickinson, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Sam
Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Sean Lamont
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob is attending the Bok pool phase of RWC 2015 to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.