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Rugby | Springboks

JP Pietersen © Gallo Images

JP in doubt for Twickenham test



The Springboks may have to do without one of their few experienced in-form backline players in Saturday’s final test of the year against England at Twickenham.

Team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed at the first press conference of the week in the team hotel in London on Monday morning that wing JP Pietersen is doubtful for the game after injuring his groin in the 21-10 win over Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh at the weekend.

“JP has a mild groin strain and he won’t train this afternoon,” said Roberts. “We will look at progressing him during the week, but obviously a groin injury is problematic for a wing. It is difficult to say now what his chances of playing against England are.

"What we will need to do is to get him doing some straight line running, and then see how he goes.”

Pietersen is the only injury concern for the final test of 2012, with Roberts saying that apart from a few minor bumps and bruises, there were no other concerns going into the last week of what for the Boks has been an injury plagued year.

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The good news, considering the challenge that will be posed by England in the scrums, is that there won’t be any need to change the front-row.

“I am happy with the way Jannie du Plessis came through against Scotland so there is no further problem there. And Jean de Villiers came through 80 minutes even though he struggled with flu last week, so there is no problem there either.

"There are a few sniffles in the team, with coach Heyneke Meyer suffering a bit with a gravelly throat, but nothing that should impact on availability for Saturday.”

Should Pietersen miss the game, Meyer has a couple of options, but those options are limited in comparison to what they might have been had the in-form Bryan Habana not been injured playing in the Currie Cup final and forced to miss the tour.

Meyer named a couple of wings as alternatives, but most of them were left wings. Habana played right wing in the Castle Rugby Championship and switching him back there would have been an easy process.

“We have Lwazi Mvovo who has played a few test matches for us now and we also have Raymond Rhule, although he is mainly coming through as a young player and learning on this tour and not necessarily someone I would be looking to start against England at this stage,” said Meyer.

Lionel Mapoe can also play wing, and then there is Jaco Taute, who has played right wing for the Lions.

“Jaco is definitely an option for us on the right wing, particularly as his kicking game could come in useful against a team like England. But it would be a very brave call as he has not played there this year,” said Meyer.

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