South African Rugby
Springboks in top condition for tour
October 5, 2010
Bryan Habana - faster than ever? © Getty Images
South Africa's November Grand Slam attempt will be undertaken by players at the peak of their physical powers according to their conditioning coaches.
Leading contracted Springboks have completed a month-long strength and conditioning programme following their dismal Tri-Nations campaign, in which they won only a single game, reporting for two days of testing at the Sports Science Institute in Cape Town on Monday and Tuesday.
While criticism of the scheme has not fully abated given the need for certain players to pick up added game time following injury and suspension, the results have pleased all involved.
"This conditioning phase has worked as well as we could ever have hoped," Springbok coach Peter De Villiers said. "The guys have come back refreshed and hungry for rugby and have given us food for thought for our selection process now."
South Africa begin their tour against Ireland in Dublin on November 6 before taking on England, Scotland, Wales and the Barbarians. Conditioning coach Neels Liebel praised the efforts of the players, a number of whom set personal bests during the sessions.
"The players are in great shape and a number of personal bests have been set by them," he said. "Considering the stage of the season it has been very pleasing and a lot of the credit must go to the players and particularly the conditioning coaches at the provincial unions who have really helped make this happen.
"CJ van der Linde, Bismarck du Plessis, Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw all set personal bests in strength tests while Bryan Habana and Jaque Fourie were the quickest we have ever tested at sea level and someone like Adi Jacobs tested really well in all aspects."
Injury rehab prevented John Smit, Fourie du Preez, Andries Bekker, Heinrich Brüssow and JP Pietersen from taking part in the tests, while the Boks were dealt another blow last weekend when influential prop Gurthro Steenkamp broke his arm while on Currie Cup duty with the Blue Bulls.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.