'Bismarck out for rest of year'
The satisfaction that came with a convincing 27-6 win over Argentina in the first Castle Rugby Championship match was tempered for the Springboks by the realisation that they may have lost hooker Bismarck du Plessis for the rest of the season.
Du Plessis went down in obvious pain with what looked a knee injury during an impressive hand-to-hand attack from the Boks in the early minutes in which the Sharks front-row forward played a prominent part. He was ferried away from the field on a golf-cart, which is never a good sign, and while he still has to be assessed, Meyer was expecting the worst afterwards.
“I don’t really like to talk ahead of the medical assessment but I think that Bismarck will almost certainly be out for the rest of the year,” said Meyer.
“He went for a scan and it appears he has torn ligaments. I don’t want to pre-empt anything before the doctors have had their final say but for the type of injury he has players are normally out for seven to eight months.”
If he is ruled out for the rest of the year it is a cruel blow for Du Plessis, who is finally getting a chance to play regularly as a first choice hooker following the retirement from international rugby of former captain John Smit. Although Adriaan Strauss was excellent as his replacement, Meyer said that Du Plessis was missed against Argentina.
“Bismarck is excellent at protecting the ball and we missed that but his absence was felt for more than just his ball retention skills,” said the coach.
“We have a very young pack and Bismarck was important for his leadership and his experience. He is also an excellent ball stealer and we missed that too.”
Referring to his team’s performance, Meyer said he was a difficult coach to please and was not completely happy.
“I would like us to have got the four tries that would have given us a bonus point. But this is test rugby and tries don’t come that easily. I felt we could have finished better than we did, although the team is improving. I was really pleased that the Pumas, who played passionately, weren’t able to score against us. I was concerned about our defence and in this game we improved (on the England series).
Meyer lauded Morne Steyn, the Bok man of the match, for his match-winning performance.
“Morne trained really well during the week and I had a feeling that he was going to produce in this match. He played a very good game.”
Skipper Jean de Villiers backed that up: “Morne is the sort of player who responds well to criticism and the performance he produced in this game is the best way to answer your critics,” said the captain.