Rassie Erasmus has revealed that Ruan Pienaar will join the Springbok squad if there is a serious injury at scrumhalf in the coming weeks. JON CARDINELLI in Kobe reports.
The Boks enjoyed a two-day break following their 66-7 win against Canada on Tuesday. When the squad reconvened for training at the Kobelco Steelers Rugby Club on Friday morning, scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies (hamstring) and wing Cheslin Kolbe (ankle) spent much of the session on the sideline.
Later, Erasmus confirmed that both players should recover from their respective niggles to feature in the World Cup quarter-final in Tokyo next Sunday. Loose forward Francois Louw (swollen knee) is another who should be available to train with the team from next week.
‘Cheslin picked up an ankle injury in the game against Italy and wasn’t available for the game against Canada,’ the Bok coach explained. ‘We are hopeful that he will be training fully again on Monday.
‘There’s a very good chance – I’d say 80 to 90% – that he will be available [for the quarter-final].
‘Herschel picked up a hamstring injury against Canada and still managed to finish the game,’ Erasmus said of the Boks’ second-choice No 9.
‘At this stage it’s just precautionary, because we’re a little bit nervous about the fact that we only have three scrumhalves in the squad. We’d rather give him more time to recover now and then get him back into the mix on Monday.’
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Erasmus was asked who he would consider as a replacement if Jantjies was forced to return home. He pointed out that Kolbe can cover scrumhalf at a push, before revealing his contingency plan.
‘Herschel won’t go home. It’s not even a grade one hamstring injury. Cheslin would have been a nice option as a back-up, though.
‘We’ve got some good scrumhalves in South Africa. Ruan Pienaar is currently playing very well for the Cheetahs back home,’ Erasmus said.
‘The difficult thing for the other scrumhalves who were in the mix this year and last year is that there is no Currie Cup rugby on the go at present. A guy like Ruan is playing regularly in the Pro14 and a few of the other South Africans are playing abroad.
‘That’s why it was so easy to bring Damian Willemse in for Jesse Kriel [when the latter was ruled out with injury], as Damian was already playing for Saracens. Thomas du Toit was playing in France when we called him up to replace Trevor Nyakane.
‘We’re very far away from the fourth-choice scrumhalf scenario, though. The three boys we have here are good to go.’
Pienaar was part of the Bok side that won the World Cup in 2007, and also featured at the 2011 and 2015 global tournaments.
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