Springbok centre Jesse Kriel has recovered from a concussion and should be available for the third Test against France. JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg reports.
Kriel sustained a concussion in the first Test of the series, and was forced to sit out of the subsequent game. The good news is that the centre has all but recovered from the ailment.
'If all goes to plan, Jesse should be available to play [in the third Test against France ],' said Bok team doctor Konrad von Hagen at the side's base in Fourways on Monday.
This will ensure that head coach Allister Coetzee is spoiled for choice at centre. Jan Serfontein has started at No 12 in the last two games, while Lionel Mapoe replaced Kriel in the second. Veteran Frans Steyn played off the bench in both matches.
Last Saturday, Coetzee said that Oupa Mohoje sustained a concussion in the second Test and was unlikely to feature in the third. Von Hagen confirmed this on Monday. Mohoje is still symptomatic, and will not train at all with the Boks this week.
The upshot is that Coetzee will be forced to make a change to his starting back row, and on the bench. Jean-Luc du Preez, who had an outstanding game at Kings Park, is expected to start at No 7 in place of Mohoje. Jaco Kriel – who has not played for the Boks as yet this season due to fitness concerns – is likely to be on the bench.
There may be one or two unforced changes in the match 23 this week. Coetzee said that he has to balance the need for continuity with the drive to develop some depth ahead of the Rugby Championship.
'We've built up some continuity over the past few games, and some of the combinations are working nicely,' the Bok coach said. 'That said, I want to look at a few other players in the squad. Maybe there is an opportunity to do that in the coming game.
'There won't be wholesale changes,' Coetzee clarified. 'We know that France will be playing for pride [after losing the first two Tests]. We need to improve in a few areas, and so will need to retain a few of the combinations.'
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images