Steyn's season over as injuries hit Boks
The Springboks were dealt a massive injury blow with the news that midfielder Frans Steyn will miss the rest of the year’s rugby calendar and will undergo surgery on his ankle this week.
Team doctor Craig Roberts told media a host of bad injury news on what can almost be considered “black Monday” as the team started preparations ahead of Saturday’s Castle Rugby Championship showdown with the All Blacks.
Other than Steyn there was bad news also about prop Coenie Oosthuizen, fullback Zane Kirchner and flank Jacques Potgieter, although replacements are only to be announced at a later date.
Potgieter is the only one of this trio to be ruled out with “an abdominal strain” which he picked up playing for the Bulls. In their place the Boks announced that Lions midfielder Lionel Mapoe will replace Steyn and former SA under-20 captain Arno Botha will replace Potgieter in the side.
No other replacements have been put on standby for Oosthuizen or Kirchner as yet.
Steyn is the main injury woe, and it was decided on Monday to rather look after his “long-term wellbeing” thus he will undergo surgery to his ankle. “The main injury news from the week is Frans Steyn. As you know he injured his ankle in training on Monday at Loftus. After doing a lot of scans and seeing a few specialists, we found he has quite a lot of ‘loose bodies’ in the joints – pieces of bone that have broken off over time and move in and out of the joint.
"The problem is that every now and then one of those pieces of bone gets hinged in the joint and it’s very painful.
“We’ve made a decision in terms of Frans’s long-term career to go in and clean that out. He will have that done on Wednesday but unfortunately it will mean he will be out for three months. It means we will lose him for the end of year tour, which is not ideal.
“But Frans is still a youngster and he has at least another 60 tests in him if we manage him properly. That’s why we decided to do it now.
"He will have a proper pre-season and go into Super Rugby in good shape. It’s a tough decision but in terms of his long-term career it’s the right thing to do.”
Coenie Oosthuizen will fly to Durban with Dr Roberts on Tuesday to see a neurosurgeon for a second opinion on his neck injury.
Oosthuizen was forced to withdraw from the Bok team to face Australia last week because of a worry over his neck and the neurosurgeon, who has operated on the likes of Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis before, will make a final call whether he will be able to return to action.
“We pulled Coenie out on Friday and I haven’t been completely happy with his neck. He had some quite significant symptoms after playing for the Cheetahs. We will have a second opinion tomorrow and based on that we will make a decision.
"It is crucial that we make the right decision that is good for his long-term career. He is a youngster with a lot of potential and rugby ahead of him and we want to make sure long-term we’re making the right decision, that’s why we are travelling tomorrow."
Dr Roberts said though, that thankfully there weren’t many injuries from the game itself.
“The big one from the game is Zane Kirchner, who has a hip pointer (bruise). It was actually from the tackle from Adam Ashley-Cooper (which knocked Ashley-Cooper out).
“That takes a couple of days to settle and we will make a call on him later in the week. There were a few guys sitting out as a precautionary. Jannie du Plessis is just a little bit sore from contact and Willem Alberts also took a knock on his hip.
“Johan Goosen still has that bruised heel, he went into the game with the heel, and was fine running, but had a problem when planting his foot.
"We always knew he may be a little sore in the game, that’s why we made the decision early on to change the kicker.”
In terms of Kirchner, a decision will only be taken when the swelling subsides, and possibly even very late in the week.
“These things respond quite nicely but there is some bruising on where the muscles attach, so he is quite sore at the moment when twisting his body.
"He is better today than yesterday and as long as he keeps on improving, I think he will be alright. We only need to make the decision later in the week.”
The Bok management has also reiterated the agreement made with provincial CEOs earlier in the year that no member of the squad – including the eight players not playing in the match 22 – will be released to play Currie Cup rugby this weekend.