Bakkies placed on stand-by for Bok squad
Bakkies Botha has been placed on stand-by by Springbok management in case lock Eben Etzebeth loses his hearing into an alleged headbutt during South Africa’s 26-19 Rugby Championship loss to Australia, coach Heyneke Meyer said on Monday in Auckland.
Etzebeth was cited for an alleged headbutt on Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe and his hearing will be held at 9am (SA Time) and Meyer has opted to place a call to veteran Botha if Etzebeth should fail in his bid to be cleared.
If Etzebeth should lose his case he will miss South Africa’s clash with New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday.
However, even if Botha is called up he is unlikely to start the match as the Springboks have locks Flip van der Merwe and Andries Bekker in their squad.
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“Bakkies is on stand-by,” Meyer told a news conference.
“We are in contact with Bakkies. We keep in touch with all the overseas-based players. The guys know who is on stand-by and exactly where they stand,” he added.
The 32-year-old Botha, who played the last of his 76 tests at last year’s World Cup, currently plies his trade with French club side Toulon.
Adding to the Boks’ concerns are the three injuries picked up during the loss to Australia. Tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis, who has tweaked his hamstring, prop Pat Cilliers, who has a Grade One strain of the ligament on the inside of his right elbow, and wing Bryan Habana, who has an ankle injury.
Springbok docter Craig Roberts said that he was confident that Habana would be fit for the test against New Zealand but a call would have to be made on Du Plessis and Cilliers on Tuesday as the squad could be short of specialist tighthead props.
Meyer said that he had a few players in mind if a replacement needed to be called up from South Africa.
“We are concerned but we will give the guys until tomorrow before we make a final call. We do have Dean Greyling on the bench but he is a loosehead. It is also difficult now just to call someone in who might not play. We need to make the right call there,” he said.