SA lacked leadership after Victor Matfield’s early replacement
THE initial report was that they were minor injuries, but knocks to Victor Matfield, Marcell Coetzee and Jannie du Plessis a
Matfield watched from the sidelines as the Boks coughed up a 20-7 lead to lose 24-20 to the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane at the weekend.
The stand-in captain barely had a touch of the ball before he limped off with a sore left hamstring in the 18th minute. It was a brutal blow that the Boks only fully felt in the final 20 minutes of the game, when the Wallabies applied unrelenting pressure on the Springbok line.
A calming head was needed but none put up their hands.
“I think it is the same sort of injury as in 2011. It is a little hamstring strain but it doesn’t feel too bad. Hopefully, I’ll only be out for a week or two but we’ll see on Monday,” Matfield said.
“I think the guys played well in that first 60 minutes and we really had them under pressure. If one or two passes had stuck at the end of the first half, we would have scored another try and won the game.
“Unfortunately, in the second half we made one or two mistakes and conceded momentum. Once they got it, they kept it well and ran at us and we had to defend the whole time. Sometimes, in moments like that you need one big play to switch the momentum but we couldn’t do that,” Matfield said.
Team doctor Craig Roberts, whose chart board is gaining more prominence ahead of the World Cup, will today give a clear prognosis on the various injuries.
After the match, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer admitted that the knocks will force him to make changes to the match 23 for this weekend.
Willem Alberts could make a return at the side of the scrum and, depending on Du Plessis’s concussion assessment, a change might also be made in the front row.
“We were worried at first. We thought Marcell had done his knee ligaments,” Meyer said. “The early news is better than expected and it’s just a bruise above the knee.
“The doc will take a look at him and, hopefully, it is not too bad. He’ll probably be out for two to three weeks, but I don’t think he’s out of the World Cup.
“Jannie also had a big [head] knock but he should be fine. The bruise usually swells up the next morning.
“We are looking fine and we aren’t hit with too many injuries,” Meyer said.
The All Blacks arrived in South Africa with a much fresher team. They rested a few Hurricanes and Highlanders players who did duty in the Super Rugby final for their 39-18 win over Argentina in Christchurch last Friday.
But reports suggest that winger Waisake Naholo could be out of World Cup contention following a leg injury.