Rassie Erasmus says there are a couple of injury concerns following Wednesday’s clash against the B&I Lions, while he has revealed the reasons for setting up a warm-up game against the Bulls this Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
A South Africa A side packed with Springbok players produced an impressive performance on Wednesday night to inflict a first team upon the touring Lions team.
In many ways it was a much-needed competitive clash that provided an appetiser of what can be expected when the Boks and Lions clash in the first Test next Saturday.
However, the physical nature of a match that has been widely referred to as the “unofficial fourth Test” was always likely to result in some injury casualties.
It would have been particularly concerning for the Bok coaches to see fullback Willie le Roux go down in the second half for treatment before having to be replaced.
After the match, Erasmus provided an injury update and also mentioned that No 8 Jasper Wiese was another injury worry.
“Willie has a hamstring that is a little bit sore. jasper at the end I think injured his ankle, but apart from that it was all tactical subs because the guys were really tired. Those are the only two guys of concern at this stage.”
Pieter-Steph du Toit also had to leave the field for a Head Injury Assessment on Wednesday night, but would be expected to be available for the first Test after completing return-to-play protocols.
It’s unlikely these players would be considered for this weekend’s second warm-up match for South Africa A, which will see more Bok players get an opportunity for a hit out in a game against the Bulls.
On Tuesday morning, this website first reported that plans were under way for such a fixture to take place. And although an official announcement is expected on Thursday, Erasmus explained the thinking behind playing one more match before the first Test.
“I know the Lions have got the Stormers on Saturday, and at this stage we are going to play the Bulls. The Bulls went into quarantine for us as a back-up. If was any outbreak with positives in the Bulls or Stormers team, then we could maybe still play the Lions again.
“I’m not sure if people want to do that, and I still think that would be the safest [alternative]. But if everything goes according to plan we will play the Bulls and the Lions will face the Stormers on Saturday. It will give our other guys a fair opportunity because we are a group of 46 and they’ve trained their asses off, but not everyone has got an opportunity.”
Earlier this week, Lions coach Warren Gatland made it clear that the tourists would not accede to playing another warm-up game against South Africa at the expense of SA A, and Erasmus said such a decision was understandable.
“I know Warren really well and he’s someone I respect a lot. If he doesn’t want to play it definitely wouldn’t be because they’re afraid of another game against us. It would be because their tour is planned around certain permutations and plans.
“It definitely wouldn’t be because we’re more physical than them or something. It would be more about wanting to play certain games at certain stages. We all know how tough next week Saturday is going to be.”
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