Boks wait on injured duo

The Springboks are hoping that Duane Vermeulen and Bryan Habana will recover from their respective ailments in time for the all-important battle against the All Blacks, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.

Both players were injured in last Saturday’s Test against the Wallabies at Newlands. Vermeulen went off with a rib cartilage injury, while Bryan Habana was forced from the field after taking a knock to the head.

The good news is that these injuries won’t sideline Vermeulen or Habana for an extended period of time. The bad news is that both the abrasive No 8 and record-breaking winger remain in doubt for Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks. It’s a game in which the Boks will need their best players fit and firing.

‘I’m hopeful that they will both be fit,’ said team doctor Craig Roberts on Monday. ‘We will take some more time to assess both of them before making a call on their availability later in the week.’

Roberts said that Vermeulen was in a lot of pain during the game against the Wallabies, and that the rib cartilage injury impaired his role on the field. If Vermeulen doesn’t recover sufficiently over the next few days, coach Heyneke Meyer may be forced to install Schalk Burger at No 8. Burger excelled when replacing Vermeulen in the second half of last Saturday’s Test.

Habana left the field during the first half Saturday’s game to have a concussion test. After receiving the all-clear, he was allowed to return two minutes before half-time.

However, when Roberts subsequently examined Habana in the change room at the break, the doctor wasn’t happy with Habana’s condition and decided not to send him back out onto the park.

On Monday, Roberts said that there are a series of tests that Habana will need to pass before receiving the green light to play the All Blacks. If Habana fails to pass fit, JP Pietersen is likely to start.

The South African side to play New Zealand at Ellis Park will be announced on Wednesday.

Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

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Jon Cardinelli