Pollard only change for Springboks (team sheet)

Handre Pollard replaces Morne Steyn as the only change to the South African side that went down by a single pint to Australia last week in Perth. The axe falls on Steyn because his penalty kick did not make touch which allowed the Aussies to run in a last minute try and squeak home by a single point in a match where both teams looked distinctly average.

More surprisingly is the omission of Bok hard-man Bismark Du Plessis. The much looser Adriaan Strauss retains his place, despite not producing any thing of great substance last week. No doubt Du Plessis will be utilised early in the second half against New Zealand, even though he is generally not seen as an impact player.

South Africa – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Damian de Allende.

“Glass bone” Goosen’s injury not so bad…

There was a batch of good news for South Africa on Monday, following their bruising victory over Wales at the weekend.Rugby Injury

Fears that flyhalf Johan Goosen could face another lengthy injury-enforced lay-off have been allayed.

Despite lasting just five minutes, after coming on as a second half replacement in the Springboks’ 38-16 (five tries to one) demolition of Wales in Durban at the weekend, the knee injury does not seem as serious as first thought.

Bok team doctor Craig Roberts revealed Goosen might even be available to face Wales in the return Test in Nelspruit this coming Saturday.

The young flyhalf took a knock to the outside of his knee soon after coming on for Morné Steyn in the 69th minute and left the field soon afterwards.

“We were obviously a bit concerned about the knee, as it is a knee he had an ACL re-construction done on,” Roberts told a media briefing in Nelspruit on Monday.

“We pulled him off, but thankfully he settled down quite nicely.

“He had some scans today [Monday], which are quite good.

“We’ll make a decision on his availability later in the week,” the doctor said, adding that Goosen’s injury has “progressed quite nicely”.

Following a match in which the ball was in play for a Bok record 39 minutes, the rest of the squad had no more than the usual “bumps and bruises”, with some minor concerns over fullback Willie le Roux and lock Bakkies Botha.

South Africa, who had to make over 130 tackles compared to the 200 of the Welsh, are fortunate to have no major worries.

“There was a lot of rugby played and as expected quite a few bumps and bruises – most of them are minor,” the team doctor said.

The star fullback, Le Roux, took a knock to the outside of his thigh in the first half, but he soldiered on.

“Towards the middle of the second half he stiffened up,” Roberts said of the bruising on the leg muscle, adding: “He came off more as a precaution than anything else.

Le Roux is “settling quite nicely” and while he won’t train on Monday, he should be available for the second Test this coming weekend.

Botha was pulled off after half-time, because the high intensity level of the game resulted in his Achilles and calf flaring up a little bit.

“There was a bit of fatiguing on the one leg,” the doctor said, adding: “It was more of a precaution than anything else that we decided to make the change at half-time.”

He said they were lucky to have so few injuries, given the intensity of the match.

“You look at exposure,” Roberts said, adding: “The more exposure there is the higher the risk of injuries.

“It does mean that this week we need to taper back a bit – it [the game] placed a big load on the guys.

“Our training times will be cut back a bit. You do expect bumps and bruises, that is part of rugby – it is now a case of managing the players.”

Others who did not train on Monday, as part of the management process, are prop Jannie du Plessis and No.8 Duane Vermeulen – both because of the volume of rugby played in the last couple of months.

Morne Steyn off to France after Super Rugby (and some other movers)

Racing Metro has acquired the services of former Bok fly-half Morne Steyn, commencing directly after his involvement with this RW Stampyear’s Super Rugby championship ends.Racing have confirmed the signatures of Steyn as well as Bulls and Springbok lock Juandre Kruger.

Bulls flank Jacques Potgieter, who has a  Bulls Super Rugby contract that sees him Pretoria until after the 2015 season, appears to be off to Japan instead of playing in this years Currie Cup.

Rapport’s Stephen Nell reported that Stormers and Bok lock Andries Bekker appears headed to Japan following the Super Rugby season.

Stormers and Bok wing Bryan Habana has already confirmed he will be joining fellow Boks Joe van Niekerk and Bakkies Botha at the internationally star-studded Toulon.

SGR

Discarded Bok flyhalf Steyn could be off to Stade Francais after Super Rugby

Stade Francais are desperately seeking an early contract release in order to secure the services of Blue Bull number 10 Morne Steyn.RW Stamp

His agent confirmed the rumours, and he ball is now in the Blue Bulls court. Louis Fouche played well in last year’s Currie Cup, but other than him the team from Pretoria are very short on quality flyhalves.

‘There is a deal on the table and we’re waiting for final paper work,’ Van Greune told Eyewitness News Sport on Tuesday. ‘The final decision to move to Stade Francais has also not been taken by Morne. His contract to play for the Bulls is until the end of the year.’

‘We are waiting for a pre-contract from Stade Francais and then I need approval from the Bulls so that he can leave after Super Rugby. So there are still a few things to do before there’s an actual contract signed.’

The 42-cap veteran, who became a national hero when he kicked an injury time penalty to secure a series win over the British & Irish Lions in 2009, has been out of form for a few seasons now and is behind Patrick Lambie, Johan Goosen and Elton Jantjies in the Springbok pecking order.

A lucrative move overseas could be just the tonic for Steyn as he winds down his career in the kicking-friendly Northern hemisphere.

SGR