Injuries cloud Bok picture

rugby24 April 2024 08:16| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Steven Kitshoff © Getty Images

The recent spate of injuries, combined with the uncertainty over which sides will be involved in the playoff rounds of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, has clouded a normally clear selection picture for Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

As the Bok international calendar was finalised earlier this week, Erasmus moved to curtail the second alignment camp to an online meeting, but some potentially serious injury news may force him to change his plans somewhat.

The complicated and ever-changing Vodacom United Rugby Championship bunfight for the top-eight places is so tight that 11 teams can still make the top eight, including three South African franchises.

The fourth franchise - the Hollywoodbets Sharks - are going all out to win the EPCR Challenge Cup and thereby grab a place in next season’s Investec Champions Cup through this route.

All of this has complicated the availability of players for planning ahead of the Ireland series, where the Boks will take on the Six Nations Champions in a massive two weekends on the test calendar.

Complicating that even more is the news of injuries, with Ulster announcing that Springbok loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff has sustained a season-ending knee injury. With just a few rounds left of the URC and Ulster out of EPCR competitions, it is unclear what “season-ending” may mean, but it certainly is a concern ahead of the Bok test season.

“Steven Kitshoff suffered a knee injury against Clermont in the EPCR Challenge Cup quarterfinal fixture and following a scan and specialist opinion, it has been determined that unfortunately, this is season-ending,” an injury update from the Northern Irish team said.

“He will travel back to South Africa this week, where he will see a knee specialist to decide on the required treatment plan.”


Considering Kitshoff is very much part of the dominant Bok scrum, it would be a blow not to have him around in July, although with Ox Nche putting in some exceptional form, the Boks certainly do have cover there.

Trevor Nyakane and Vincent Koch can both swing to loosehead if needed while Gerhard Steenekamp has had an excellent season with the Bulls.

Then there is the eye socket injury to another World Cup winner in Jean Kleyn, who has received treatment in America, although the prognosis of how long he is out is unclear.

“There has been a bit said about Jean Kleyn’s eye injury,” Munster coach Graham Rowntree said on Thursday.

“He has been to America and we are very happy with the plan for him going forward. He will be available for the start of next season.”

Rowntree was asked if that meant Kleyn could be involved for the Boks v Ireland and said: “It could, it could be, yeah. I never thought about that. Crikey, thanks for reminding me.

“There was a bit of confusion in the Irish media that his eye injury may be worse than suggested, but no, he has seen a specialist in America, and he and we are very happy with the plan going forward.

“He will be available for next season. When the next season starts, I can’t tell you exactly.”


The third long-term injury is that of World Cup flanker Marco van Staden, although that hasn’t been as serious as first thought with Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White saying that it is a matter of a few weeks before he returns. Van Staden is likely to feature for the Bulls in the URC playoffs.

Another player that Rassie won’t be able to turn to is World Cup hero Deon Fourie, whose season-ending injury means his chances of making the Bok squad again diminished significantly, although the chances were anyway going to be slim.

So with the URC Playoffs and Challenge Cup finales looming, as well as the latest injury news, you could be forgiven if Erasmus looks for a bit of luck through the storms.

Even if it is just to make the planning for the test season a bit easier.