‘Jannie’s in great condition’

Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers believes Jannie du Plessis is in a very good space heading towards the World Cup, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Durban.

Du Plessis came under some pressure at the start of the season, but responded to elements of criticism with a powerful scrumming performance against New Zealand in the second Test of the Rugby Championship.

However, he suffered a knee injury that ruled him out of the matches against Argentina, and his presence was particularly missed against the power of Pumas loosehead Marcos Ayerza in the Durban defeat on 8 August.

Du Plessis has since worked his way back to full fitness, and there is no doubt he will have a vital role to play for the Boks at the World Cup, with the 31-man squad set to be named on Friday.

‘Jannie has had time to work very hard on his conditioning, and to get over all the niggles he had,’ De Villiers commented. ‘We’ve had a great few weeks with him, most of the props have done a lot of extra conditioning and strength work. We’ve tried our best as a coaching unit to give Heyneke [Meyer] as fit and strong selection of props as possible.’

De Villiers said he was confident the Boks would be able to give a good account of themselves at scrum-time during the World Cup.

‘I think we’ve worked very hard over the last couple of years in terms of our scrum set-up and player conditioning. We’re fortunate to have good depth in the front row, and we feel confident that we can go out there and compete with the best. Our mindset in our last game against Argentina was outstanding, we went with a mindset of physical domination and we got good speed on engagement, and it was a strong eight-man effort. The guys who came off the bench also made an impact.’

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis