Springbok centre Damian de Allende remains in doubt for the Pool B clash against Scotland on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI in Newcastle.
De Allende injured his knee in the first half of last Saturday’s match against Samoa. After attempting to play through the pain, he was subbed in the 48th minute. Further injuries to the Bok backline saw Handré Pollard finishing the game at inside centre.
The Boks need De Allende to bounce back from that injury in the lead-up to what is a must-win game against Scotland. They’ve already lost captain Jean de Villiers, the most experienced centre in their squad, for the remainder of the tournament.
However, if De Allende doesn’t come through a fitness test later this week, there will be a change at No 12. And it could be that Jan Serfontein, who only joined the team in Newcastle on Monday as a replacement for De Villiers, is rushed straight into the starting lineup.
‘I’m not sure if I’m allowed to comment on my knee at the moment,’ De Allende said on Tuesday. ‘It is feeling better than it was on Saturday, but it’s a day-by-day process. There’s always going to be some concern when you take a shot like that to the knee.’
Jesse Kriel took a boot to the face in Saturday’s match, but fortunately there was no fracture to his cheekbone. Kriel has started four Tests this season at No 13, and may be reinstated when the Boks battle Scotland at St James' Park.
The other option is to move JP Pietersen from wing to outside centre. Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan said earlier this week that Pietersen is being considered for the role, but a final call will only be made later in the week.
Serfontein and Pietersen started in midfield when the Boks played two Tests against Wales and a one-off against Scotland in June 2014. However, coach Heyneke Meyer may be reluctant to make too many unforced changes this week. Pollard should remain at No 10 and Pietersen at No 14 considering how well they performed in those positions against Samoa.
Serfontein was all smiles when addressing the media from the team’s base in Gateshead on Tuesday. He was disappointed to miss out on the initial World Cup squad selection, but that snub allowed him to go back to the Vodacom Blue Bulls and enjoy some much needed game time in the Currie Cup.
The 22-year-old received a call from Meyer on Saturday night informing him of De Villiers’s injury situation. It was only on Sunday when he got a second call to confirm that he would be journeying to England for his first World Cup.
‘I was watching the match between England and Wales when the coach called me,’ Serfontein said. ‘He said that he would only know for certain about Jean's injury on Sunday. So I didn’t get much sleep on Saturday night.
‘These are not ideal circumstances, but I am happy to be here now. I realise that there are still a number of players competing for a position [in the starting lineup], so I will have to work hard to receive an opportunity.’
De Allende, Victor Matfield, Jannie du Plessis, Willem Alberts and Fourie du Preez are all nursing injuries, and will be managed carefully over the course of the week. Meyer has already pushed back the team announcement to 6pm on Wednesday (SA time) to allow his charges more time to recover and prove their fitness in training.
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