Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus admits that a number of players are in a race against time to prove their fitness for the World Cup.
The Boks take on Argentina in a World Cup warm-up match in Pretoria that will give Erasmus a final look at his options before naming his squad for the World Cup later this month.
While Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has rejoined the squad and looks set to continue his comeback from injury against Argentina, there are still question marks over the likes of Damian Willemse as well as 2018 Breakthrough Player of the Year Aphiwe Dyantyi and No 8 Warren Whiteley, who have all had their struggles with injuries this year.
Willemse has recovered and could play for Western Province in their Currie Cup match against Griquas in Kimberley, but Dyantyi and Whiteley could struggle to make the final cut.
‘Some guys are in a race against time,’ Erasmus told the media in Johannesburg. ‘Damian Willemse can get a few minutes for Province this weekend. It looks like Aphiwe can only play next weekend. Coenie [Oosthuizen] and Wilco [Louw] have been playing, but our props have been doing really well.
‘Warren will struggle to make the World Cup because of his injuries, he has got setback after setback. He is in a race against time.
‘Unfortunately, even if you are a very good player but you are injured and have no game time. If you take a player who has been out for six weeks to the World Cup, you can’t throw him into the first game against New Zealand if he has not played for eight or nine weeks.’
Erasmus added that this weekend’s match-day squad could have a similar look as the one that faced the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship opener, when Herschel Jantjies and Rynhardt Elstadt were handed Test debuts.
‘This weekend, we will mix and match a little bit,’ Erasmus said. ‘But we will pick a strong team like we did against Australia because we want to keep the momentum. This is the last game before we go away and we want to leave on a high.
‘There are a few big calls we will have to make this week. We are busy getting in all the results from the fitness tests, but we will have some more clarity on that in the next four or five days.’
Erasmus will announce his squad for the World Cup on 26 August.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images