Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has provided updates on Willie le Roux and Makazole Mapimpi ahead of next Saturday’s first Test against the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town.
Neither player featured in Saturday’s fixture that saw a Bok-heavy South Africa ‘A’ side go down 17-14 to the Bulls.
Le Roux suffered a hamstring strain in Wednesday’s SA ‘A’ clash against the British Lions, while Mapimpi is one of a number of star Boks including Siya Kolisi, Handre Pollard, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager and Frans Steyn who have been recovering from Covid-19 infection.
Mapimpi, though, has not featured in either of the two SA ‘A’ matches or the Springboks’ Test against Georgia back on 2 July, and the concern is that the 2019 World Cup final hero would come back into the set-up cold and severely lacking in game time.
In addressing Mapimpi and the other Boks who are recovering from Covid, Nienaber said a number of factors would determine who would be considered for selection.
“It will depend on physical readiness and if he gets through his Covid protocols,” said Nienaber.
“He’s got a race to get out of his quarantine and get a return to play [clearance], and then we must make a decision.
“Is he one of the guys that we have worked with? What is his conditioning and how does he train and where is he in terms of GPS stats?
“Then we must make an informed decision on that.
“There are some players who have been in our squad for 18 to 26 Test matches and obviously they have a good understanding of what we’re trying to do and how our system works. That will probably count for them.”
Nienaber confirmed that Le Roux, meanwhile, had provided positive feedback.
“I spoke to Willie this morning and he said he feels fine,” said Nienaber.
“We will have to reassess and get a medical on him and all the injuries from Wednesday and today.”
If Le Roux is unable to start at Cape Town Stadium on 24 July, then Aphelele Fassi would be a popular choice to wear the No 15 jersey.
“We wouldn’t have added Aphelele to the squad if we didn’t think he was good enough, but there are still a lot of things he needs to [work on],” Nienaber explained.
“It’s not because he’s not good enough, it’s just that it takes some getting used to the way we do things in our team and structures.
“The more he is in our environment, the more he will learn. He is definitely a proper talent for the future and I’m sure that if we had to press on his button, he’d be ready to go.”