ARU hopes SANZAR check on Bok injuries

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    The Australian Rugby Union says it’s up to SANZAR to investigate whether South Africa’s mass player withdrawals for their upcoming Tri-Nations encounters in Australia and New Zealand are legitimate.

    The Springboks are set to field a second-string side against the Wallabies in Sydney on July 23 after team manager Andy Marinos said 21 of their preliminary World Cup squad were injured and unavailable for their opening two away Tri-Nations matches.

    It leaves just fly-half Morne Steyn, hooker and captain John Smit and No.8 Pierre Spies as probable first-choice players in contention when the squad is named on Saturday for the Tests in Sydney and Wellington.

    Fullback Francois Steyn, wingers JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana, centres Jaque Fourie and Jean de Villiers and scrum-half Fourie du Preez are among eight backs on the casualty list.

    The 13 forwards ruled out include props Tendai Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis, locks Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield and flanks Schalk Burger and Juan Smith.

    ARU chief executive John O’Neill was left fuming in 2007 when the Springboks, in a bid to keep their best players fresh ahead of the World Cup, selected a second-string squad for their Tri-Nations clash in Australia.

    At the time, O’Neill labelled South Africa’s ploy as “simply not in the spirit of the game”.

    But although the ARU aren’t treating the Springboks’ latest move as sinister just yet, they hope SANZAR will investigate the circumstances further.

    “The SANZAR joint venture is quite specific about the three countries making best endeavours to field their best available teams and we also have that assurance in writing from the SARU chief executive,” an ARU spokesperson said.

    “We can’t comment from here on what their injury status is, but I’m sure the SANZAR administration will take that up with SARU.”

    South African team doctor Craig Roberts said that while a number of players faced a race against time to be fit for the two-fixture home leg of the Tri-Nations in August, no one had been ruled out of the World Cup.

    “Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen recently sustained serious injuries and will definitely not be ready to take part in the Tri-Nations,” Roberts told a media conference.

    “But we are hopeful that others who have had long-term injuries, such as Juan Smith, Heinrich Brussow and Gurthro Steenkamp, may be available at some point in the series.”

    Defending champions South Africa will name a 30-man World Cup squad on August 23, fly to New Zealand on September 1 and begin their defence of the William Webb Ellis trophy 10 days later in Wellington against Wales.

    The Wallabies will announce their initial 40-man squad on Sunday for the upcoming Test season.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (59)

    • July 8th 2011 @ 7:37am
      Loftus said | July 8th 2011 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      ”ARU chief executive John O’Neill was left fuming in 2007 when the Springboks, in a bid to keep their best players fresh ahead of the World Cup, selected a second-string squad for their Tri-Nations clash in Australia.” Wahahaha!!! I would have paid good money to see that fool fuming.Usually he just looks plain smug. Anyway,Mr O’Neill, this is what happens when you organise an extended Super tournament in a World Cup year – just to ensure that your own country get a domestic competition.I guess this time it’s Peter de Villiers who is fuming.

    • July 8th 2011 @ 7:43am
      Bayboy said | July 8th 2011 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      This does have a fishy smell about it.
      But what can you do except send your own doctors over there to check and then again it’s easy to feint an injury to some degree.
      There was a rumour a few weeks back here in NZ that Henry and Co were looking at sending a developing players on the away legs of the Tri-Nations they could get around the SANZAR agreement by saying on form these are the best players available. Then again who determines who is the best player it’s all perception in the end isn’t it.

    • July 8th 2011 @ 8:16am
      Dave said | July 8th 2011 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      At the end of the day de Villiers can select whoever he likes for whatever reason he feels like. I don’t think there is much anyone else can (or should) do to stop him. Who is qualified to say who is fit enough or in good enough form if it isn’t the head coach? I think the interesting thing will be firstly what sort of sides the NZ and Australian teams name to face this second string bok side and secondly what effect it will have on their fortunes at the world cup.

    • Roar Guru

      July 8th 2011 @ 8:25am
      Hoy said | July 8th 2011 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      This is my massive pet hate. As said above, hard to prove, but stinks.

      Some of the 21 players were playing last week. So it seems fishy as BB says, that now they are injured for a period of time that happens to include the away leg of the tournament in two weeks. That is three weeks off for them.

      South Africans have done this before.

      I hope they get spanked by record margins.

      • July 8th 2011 @ 8:55pm
        Sylvester Hyde said | July 8th 2011 @ 8:55pm | ! Report

        I wonder if the “injured” Habana and de Villiers would be playing this weekend, had the Stormers won…

    • July 8th 2011 @ 8:45am
      mikeylives said | July 8th 2011 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      Not in the spirit of the game and disappointing.

      However, it is clear that (after the super15 final – go reds) Bill is the main goal this year and I can see why an ageing team is prepared to experiment with the huge pool of springbok talent for the TN.

      Just wish they didn’t BS everyone and say it is due to injury.

    • July 8th 2011 @ 8:47am
      Sam Taulelei said | July 8th 2011 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      JON will make a lot of noise about this in the press as he’s wont to do.

      But I don’t know how you can pass judgement on the fitness of players thousands of kilometers away even if some of them did play last week.

      You can’t control who your opposition selects to play against you.

      People will naturally smell a rat because Jake White did the same thing four years ago, however in 2007 the Super rugby competition didn’t run as long, the attrition rate for SA players wasn’t as high and the Boks opened their Tri Nations with two matches at home.

      • Roar Guru

        July 8th 2011 @ 8:56am
        Hoy said | July 8th 2011 @ 8:56am | ! Report

        What was upsetting in 2007 was they opened with two at home, then brought a second grade team over there. It was deliberate at that time, but still no better. As I said, it is tough to prove, but VERY disappointing if it is playing possum.

        It is poor manners really. We give them our best team, yet they don’t respect the agreement between the three countries.

        Their attrition rate would be the same as everyone elses surely? Everyone plays the same amount.

        • July 8th 2011 @ 9:40am
          Lee said | July 8th 2011 @ 9:40am | ! Report

          What about the NZRU devaluing the Super 14 in 2007? Or is that OK?

          Who is to say that these players aren’t injured anyway? And to what extent must they be injured not to play? The season has been longer and more taxing, and the injury toll for all sides was pretty high.

          Add to that, of the 21 injured players, 5 are Sharks, 5 are Bulls and 7 are Stormers…isn’t it even remotely conceivable that as 2 of these teams made it to the finals and 3rd had to pretty much win every game from about round 11, that players played hurt? If you had a small injury and your team was playing finals rugby would you say you couldn’t play? These decisions are now impacting on the national squad, and would you rather they keep playing hurt in the toughest rugby tournament(3N) and miss the WC or miss some 3Ns games and play in the WC.

          • July 9th 2011 @ 1:37am
            gumboot said | July 9th 2011 @ 1:37am | ! Report

            Yeah but there’s a written contract/agreement for the tri-nations to send your best available team, not so the Super rugby. Apples for pears really? As John Smit says (ironically) excuses are for losers

            • July 9th 2011 @ 5:53am
              Lee said | July 9th 2011 @ 5:53am | ! Report

              Key there being “best available team”…that doesn’t mean you send injured players.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 9th 2011 @ 8:09am
                Gumboot said | July 9th 2011 @ 8:09am | ! Report

                What’s that got to do with your original comment… “What about the NZRU devaluing the Super 14 in 2007? Or is that OK?”

                I’m just saying that the S14 is a different kettle of fish than the tri-nations. Obviously my 2 cents worth has devalued lol

      • July 8th 2011 @ 2:35pm
        Brett McKay said | July 8th 2011 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

        and Sam, I think that’s exactly why O’Neill has been very careful with his words in hoping (but actually requesting) that SANZAR will make enquires. He’s very carefully said, “We can’t comment from here on what their injury status is, but I’m sure the SANZAR administration will take that up with SARU.” It’s not hard to pick up the not-so-subtle message there. He very obviously smells a rat, but he’s not saying he smells a rat.

        And anyway, SANZAR enquires or not, the Boks are hardly going to turn around and say “key players X, Y, & Z have all receovered quicker than anticipated and are on their way to Australia now…”

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