Toulouse-based Springbok duo Cheslin Kolbe and Rynhardt Elstadt could miss the first of two Test matches against Georgia after their club progressed to the Top 14 final.
At an online media briefing on Monday, Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber gave an update on the team’s preparations or the upcoming series against Georgia, which will serve as the team’s warm-ups for the Lions series.
While he wasn’t exactly sure, Nienaber said that Kolbe and Elstadt could miss the first of the two Test matches as the French Top 14 final takes place a week before on Friday, 25 June.
“Rynhardt and Cheslin are playing in the Top 14 final. I am not sure, but I heard that it might be on Friday night. They will then only be getting their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday, after the final.
“They will probably fly after that, hopefully getting into South Africa either on Monday or Tuesday. We will be playing that Friday, so I think, as I am currently aware, that will leave them very little time to get back into the mix and our way of doing things.
“Personally, I believe it will be a tough ask for them to play against Georgia, the first Test match. I must also stress that there are selectors who will have a say in that. They might also be able to get here earlier, so logistically there might be things that change.”
Kolbe’s absence could give the Springbok coaching staff the opportunity to blood one of the three uncapped wings currently in the squad: Aphelele Fassi, Rosko Specman and Yaw Penxe. The Springboks also have Sbu Nkosi, who was effective as a backup during the 2019 World Cup.
Nienaber added that, as this will be the last week that the Boks will be training without a Test on the weekend, the coaching staff will be putting the players through their paces to make sure they are conditioned enough for the coming challenges.
“This is the last week that we are preparing without playing a Test match. So, from a conditioning perspective, we can put a nice load on the players because we don’t have to taper before a Test.
“The main focus is to get everyone acquainted with our language, our lingo, our strategies, especially those coming in from their clubs, with an added conditioning focus. ”
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