Boks lose Coenie and Frans
The Springboks suffered a double setback on Friday when Coenie Oosthuizen joined Frans Steyn in withdrawing from Saturday’s Castle Rugby Championship match against Australia at Loftus Versfeld.
While Steyn's absence was expected, given the fact the midfielder hasn’t trained all week and was on crutches for most of it, Oosthuizen’s neck injury was a blow the team didn’t want at this stage, but at least one they had made contingency plans for.
Pat Cilliers will move onto the bench for the match to cover Oosthuizen while Jaco Taute will make his debut at outside centre, with captain Jean de Villiers moving inside to accommodate the switch. The move will give the Boks two relatively young players either side of the captain, with Johan Goosen also winning his first starting cap for the Boks.
“Frans went for a number of scans and X-rays this week and after specialist consultation it was decided that he should rather not play against Australia,”Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said in a team statement.
“Coenie, who played 35 minutes of rugby for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs last weekend, had stiffness in the neck and shoulder area after the game.
“After sitting out training on Monday, he felt much better and took part in the field sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, but based on the nature of his injury and the initial symptoms early in the week, we felt that it would be better to withdraw him from the test.
“Coenie is a young player who has a lot of rugby ahead of him and with injuries like these it’s always better to gradually build him back to full match fitness.”
There is no doubt the injuries will be a setback, but both Taute and Cilliers are players the Lions have relied on this year and both have good futures ahead of them at international level.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said while he would have loved both Steyn and Oosthuizen to be fit, player welfare always comes first.
“Losing Frans and Coenie so close to the test is a big setback, but we will always consider player welfare first. I’m very excited to see what Jaco will bring to this team and it’s great to have an experienced player like Juan as back-up. Pat has been part of this squad for almost two months now and he will slot in easily.”
Elton Jantjies could also make his debut if he gets off the bench during the game.