Victor Matfield’s injury will force Heyneke Meyer to select a new captain for the coming Test against the All Blacks, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.
Matfield pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 18th minute of last Saturday’s Test against the Wallabies. The Bok medical staff will continue to assess the veteran lock over the next few days, but it’s unlikely he will be ready to face the All Blacks at Ellis Park this Saturday.
‘The chances of Victor featuring are very slim,’ Bok team doctor Craig Roberts said on Monday. ‘We will reassess him again this afternoon, and then make a final call on his availability later in the week.’
In the interim, the Boks will be looking at other captaincy and No 5 options. Unfortunately, the injury situation is such that they aren't spoiled for choice in either department.
Two weeks ago, regular Bok skipper Jean de Villiers made his return to the playing field in the match against the World XV. And this past Saturday, De Villiers played 60 minutes for Western Province in a friendly game against the Pumas. By all accounts, that knee has stood up to scrutiny.
Meyer might consider the De Villiers captaincy option given Matfield’s injury situation. And yet, as Roberts said to the media on Monday, De Villiers was never expected to feature against the All Blacks. He is set to return to the Boks when they tackle Argentina next month.
Roberts also confirmed that senior players Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts will not be considered for the game against the All Blacks. The scrumhalf and flanker will continue with their respective rehabilitation programmes.
With De Villiers, Du Preez and No 8 Duane Vermeulen all unavailable, and Matfield expected to join the injured ranks, Meyer’s captaincy options are limited. One of Schalk Burger or Bismarck du Plessis may have to lead the Boks against the All Blacks. Another option at scrumhalf is Ruan Pienaar, the vice-captain in the Boks’ last two matches.
The good news regarding Matfield’s injury is that it won’t jeopardise his involvement in the 2015 World Cup. Marcell Coetzee has also received some positive feedback regarding the knee injury he sustained in Brisbane. Roberts said there is no ligament damage.
Coetzee may not play this week, but it’s encouraging to hear that he may recover in the buildup to the World Cup. The severity of the injury will be confirmed following further assessments.
Francois Louw and Jannie du Plessis sustained minor injuries this past Saturday, but will be available for the clash against the All Blacks.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images