Paige out, Van Zyl in

Piet van Zyl has been called up as an injury replacement for Rudy Paige, who has been ruled out of this Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks. CRAIG LEWIS reports in Durban.

Allister Coetzee confirmed on Monday that Paige would not be available this week after waking up with headaches as a result of the head knock he suffered in last Saturday’s encounter with the Wallabies.

It's a considerable blow for the Boks considering that Paige acquitted himself well alongside Morné Steyn in the Boks' penultimate Rugby Championship clash. Although the Boks still have Faf de Klerk and Francois Hougaard in their squad to cover scrumhalf, Coetzee has now called up a third No 9 to provide further backup.

Van Zyl, who plays for the Blue Bulls, will join the Boks later on Monday. The scrumhalf has two Test caps to his name and played for the SA A side earlier this year against the England Saxons.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see who Coetzee backs to start at No 9 against the All Blacks. Should the coach opt to start Hougaard at No 9 in the absence of Paige, Willie le Roux is then likely to move on to the wing.

However, the least disruptive move may well be to simply bring Faf de Klerk straight back in to start at scrumhalf, with the Lions star having started the first seven Tests of the year.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Duane Vermeulen recently made his return to action for Toulon after overcoming a knee injury, the Bok coach said they would not be calling up the big No 8 for this final Rugby Championship encounter.

It's an interesting decision considering that Vermeulen's physical presence has been sorely missed, particularly on defence, but Coetzee insisted that he was satisfied with the performances of Warren Whiteley, and the loose-forward cover provided by Willem Alberts and Jaco Kriel.

In other news, wing Bryan Habana (thigh injury) and centre Jesse Kriel (groin strain) will continue to receive medical treatment following their respective niggles from Saturday’s clash, while Pieter-Steph du Toit has been cleared after recovering from a hip-pointer injury.

Centre Damian de Allende and hooker Malcolm Marx have rejoined the camp in Durban after representing their respective teams in the Currie Cup. Unfortunately Lwazi Mvovo, who was released last week to play for the Sharks, had to undergo an appendix operation last week and has been ruled out of action.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis