Concern over injured Springbok stalwarts
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will be a worried man this week as two of his most experienced campaigners suffered injuries at the weekend.
Stormers flank and current SA Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit looked visibly upset when he left the field during the Super Rugby clash against the Bulls at Newlands with a shoulder injury.
Du Toit has been at his indefatigable best this season and the sight of his square shoulders slumped as he trundled down the tunnel was not a welcome one for Erasmus‚ Stormers coach Robbie Fleck‚ or SA Rugby fans in general.
Bulls centre Kriel‚ who has also been in sparkling form this season‚ limped off the pitch with an ankle injury in the physical contest‚ which the Stormers won 24-23.
There were no immediate updates on both players in the aftermath of the match‚ and the severity of their injuries will become clear in the coming week.
“We will chat to medical staff so I don’t have information yet‚” Fleck said immediately after the match when quizzed about Du Toit’s injury.
“What I do know is he took a knock to the shoulder‚ but we will only know more early next week.”
Similarly there was little clarity on Kriel’s situation from Bulls coach Pote Human.
In a further worrying development for the Boks‚ Lions skipper Warren Whiteley missed Friday’s 36-10 loss against the Crusaders in Christchurch with a knee injury.
Whiteley had only just returned from a pectoral injury the previous week against the Chiefs. Another setback is not what the Bok management wanted to see.
With the World Cup looming in a little over five months‚ every injury to a key player is a heart-in-the-mouth moment.
While in theory no players are irreplaceable‚ Du Toit is probably the first name Erasmus puts on his team sheet these days.
Now operating at blindside flank‚ having started his career as a lock‚ his high work rate and physical intensity‚ coupled with granite defence and lineout prowess‚ make him essential to the Bok cause.
Whiteley’s leadership‚ whether starting or in the squad context‚ is also important for the Boks.
Kriel is playing some of the best rugby of his life and is now massively experienced after four years as a Test player‚ which included playing in the 2015 World Cup semi-final.