Kriel out, Mapoe in for Boks

Jan Serfontein and Lionel Mapoe are set to start in midfield in the second Test now that Jesse Kriel has been ruled out with concussion. JON CARDINELLI in Durban reports.

The Bok No 13 took a blow to the head in the first Test at Loftus Versfeld last Saturday. On Monday, the Bok medical team confirmed that Kriel sustained a concussion and will play no part in the second Test at Kings Park.

Bok coach Allister Coetzee said on Monday that Kriel should be fit for the third and final Test at Ellis Park. Meanwhile, Coetzee looks set to back Serfontein and Mapoe in midfield.

Mapoe has made a full recovery from a hamstring injury and is available to start. Damian de Allende, who did not train last week due to a thigh injury, has not made sufficient progress and will be sent back to the Stormers.

Coetzee said that veteran centre Frans Steyn is likely to remain on the bench this week. The Bok coach wants to persist with Serfontein at No 12, and pick Mapoe at No 13.

'I don't want to focus on the Jesse injury,' said Coetzee. 'Jan was outstanding against France last Saturday. The experience and work-rate he brought to the contest really helped us.

'Jesse was playing with a lot of confidence. He's out now, but he will be back in the third Test. In the meantime, we need a specialist in that No 13 channel. I'd rather bring someone like Lionel in than move Jan from 12 to 13, as that would mean two changes to the backline instead of one.'

Otherwise, Coetzee looks set to retain the backline combinations that started in the first Test.

'Look, it wasn't a perfect performance. We created opportunities in the first half that we didn't finish. Perhaps that was overeagerness. We saw the players rushing some of those passes, and other instances where we broke the line and didn't finish.

'They did breach our defence a few times in the wider channels, and that is something we will have to improve on. There were a few instances of players coming out of the line. What I cannot fault is the attitude, and the drive to get back and make the tackle.

'I was very happy with the performance of the back three. I expected some mistakes. The important thing is that they learned from those errors. They now know the consequences of making those mistakes at Test level.'

Coetzee won't be calling a replacement into the squad now that Kriel has been sidelined and De Allende has been sent home. The good news for the Boks is that the SA A side is also training in Durban, and those players may be utilised by the senior team in the event of further injuries. 

'We have some very capable centres in that squad such as Juan de Jongh, Francois Venter, and even young Harold Vorster. They're staying about 3km away, so it wouldn't be a problem to call on them. The SA A  side is using all our calls in their training sessions, so the transition will be seamless.'

Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

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Jon Cardinelli