South African Rugby
Aplon and Van der Merwe fly home
July 26, 2011
Flip van der Merwe is out of South Africa's clash with New Zealand at the weekend © Getty Images
Springboks Gio Aplon and Flip van der Merwe will fly home from the South Africa's tour after being ruled out of the Tri-Nations clash with New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.
Aplon missed a second successive training session on Tuesday with back and shoulder injuries and the decision was taken to send him home with Van der Merwe, who failed to recover from a rib injury he suffered during the 39-20 defeat to Australia in Sydney.
Utility back Patrick Lambie is set to replace Aplon in the fullback jersey - a role he assumed at the Sharks after veteran Frederic Michalak joined the squad mid-season. Meanwhile Van der Merwe, 26, will be replaced in the second-row by either Daine Rossouw, who started at blindside flanker against the Wallabies, or uncapped lock Gerhard Mostert.
In a further blow, the Springboks have confirmed that openside flanker Heinrich Brussow will not be fit for the match at the Westpac Stadium, meaning Deon Stegmann is set to retain his place in the pack. Brussow is recovering from a long-term hamstring injury so will not be available to face All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in the crucial breakdown battle.
It is hoped Brussow will make his comeback when the Cheetahs meet Western Province in the Currie Cup next weekend.
In one positive, Alistair Hargreaves, the Springbok's other starting lock against Australia, returned to training on Tuesday as concern eased over his abdominal strain.
However, head coach Peter de Villiers has another potential headache after fullback Gio Aplon, who sustained back and shoulder knocks against the Wallabies, missed a second successive training session.
The diminutive counter attacker is now considered doubtful, raising the possibility of utility back Patrick Lambie starting at fullback - a role he assumed at the Sharks after veteran French first five-eighth Frederic Michalak joined the squad mid-season.
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