Pienaar and de Villiers boost Springboks
July 25, 2009
Jean de Villiers has been cleared to face the All Blacks on Saturday © Getty Images
The Springboks have received a fitness boost ahead of their Tri-Nations rematch with the All Blacks in Durban on Saturday, with both fly-half Ruan Pienaar and centre Jean de Villiers expected to be fit to play.
With Sharks centre Adi Jacobs and Stormers lock Andries Bekker reporting a clean bill of health after missing the 28-19 win over New Zealand in Bloemfontein on Saturday both Pienaar and de Villiers have come through checks on their fitness after limping from the field at Free State Stadium.
Pienaar was replaced at half-time by Morne Steyn after suffering an ankle injury, while Munster-bound de Villiers was helped from the field with what looked like a serious leg injury - since shown to have been cramp.
"We came through relatively well in the game, Pienaar rolled his ankle in a tackle just before half-time," Springbok doctor James Roberts told SAPA. "We had the opportunity to assess him properly at half-time and decided it was better to pull him off then rather than risk further injury.
"He has a grade one ankle strain. He looks quite good today, though, he did some straight line running and we are optimistic he'll be ready for this weekend's game.
"The other one is Jean de Villiers which the commentators made out to be worse than it really was. He actually just had cramp. He hasn't played a lot of games of late and cramped up but it looked worse than it actually was. He's fit and ready to play."
Hooker Bismarck du Plessis is also in line to play a full part in training this week after suffering a minor ankle injury, while the return of Jacobs may been a reshuffle in midfield. Jaque Fourie scored the winning try against the All Blacks, but coach Peter de Villiers has generally preferred Jacobs during his time in charge.
De Villiers was also guarded about his selection at fly-half, adding a note of caution to the doctor's assessment of Pienaar.
"Ruan is a guy you can build a side around and because of his injury on the weekend, we may need to manage him better to get him through the next five games," he said. "I will take my cue from the doctor because although Ruan was running in a straight line, rugby is about more than that. To put him on the field if he is not 100 per cent fit can damage a player's future.
"We want to make sure we do the best thing for ourselves and the player."