Injury worries for Boks

Bryan Habana, Rudy Paige and Jesse Kriel could all be in doubt for the Springboks’ final Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks in Durban. CRAIG LEWIS reports from Pretoria.

Habana looked in some discomfort when he hobbled from the field early in the second half, and at the post-match press conference on Saturday, Allister Coetzee said that the Bok stalwart may have suffered a haematoma after taking a knock to the knee.

His condition will be assessed further on Sunday, along with three other teammates who suffered injuries in a bruising encounter.

To add to the Boks’ woes, Jesse Kriel aggravated a hamstring injury in the first half and had to be replaced by Lionel Mapoe, while Rudy Paige took a blow to the head that also forced him off the field.

Kriel will now have to undergo scans to determine the severity of his injury, while Paige will need to pass cognitive tests in order to be passed fit to face the All Blacks.

Rather bizarrely, Paige was replaced by hulking loose forward Willem Alberts, with the Boks finding themselves compromised by the fact they’d opted for a six-two forwards-to-backs split.

As a result of Habana’s injury, Willie le Roux had to head on to the wing, while Francois Hougaard moved into the scrumhalf berth for Paige. Meanwhile, flanker Jaco Kriel had to do a job on the left wing for the better part of the final half an hour.

However, Allister Coetzee said they would not necessarily move away from their plan when it came to their bench breakdown.

‘Obviously it wasn’t an ideal situation, but that only came about as the result of a few injuries. Despite that, we had a very clear plan in place and knew how to cope with it.’

Besides injury concerns over Habana, Paige and Kriel, Coetzee said lock Pieter-Steph du Toit had suffered a hip-pointer injury.

Although he had to be replaced early in the second half by Lood de Jager, Du Toit would be expected to recover in time to take up his place to face New Zealand.

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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