The Springboks received good news as they reassembled after licking their wounds in defeat at the hands of the All Blacks last week - that prop Ox Nche’s pectoral muscle injury was not as bad as it may have seemed.
Nche is still set to miss the two games against Argentina over the next fortnight but it seems he could be back in action in the next month and Nche could even be ready to play against Wales on 19 August or a week later in the Twickenham friendly against New Zealand on 26 August.
That is, of course, if his rehabilitation goes well and the Boks feel he is progressing well from the injury enough to take the chance on him.
“Ox Nche is doing well, He is back in camp with us now and he probably needs four weeks, perhaps five, before he can play for us,” coach Jacques Nienaber confirmed.
Nienaber also said that Nche had certain “markers” he needed to achieve in order to be considered for the Rugby World Cup.
But the bottom line was the outlook was a lot better than it was a few weeks ago just after he injured himself in practice.
“He is definitely a guy who can come into the mix. If he is medically cleared, first of all, but like I said after the injury there is not a lot you can do - keep it in a sling and still - I’m not sure how they handled him medically. But he was with us now in the gym busy with his own rehab programme - he is busy with the stuff he is allowed to do,” Nienaber explained.
“Everything - when I spoke to the doc and the specialist - points to another four weeks to go for that injury to heal before he will be good enough medically to play.
“There are markers - by this week he needs to get a certain range of movement and obviously if you miss a marker there is a setback.”
Jacques Nienaber's update on the fitness of Siya Kolisi and Handre Pollard, who he hopes to have available in the Rugby World Cup warm-up matches ?? pic.twitter.com/es2IoVnLLZ— SuperSport Rugby (@SSRugby) July 21, 2023
STILL BACKING KOLISI AND POLLARD TO BE FIT FOR WORLD CUP
Nienaber also backed the two other injured Springboks - captain Siya Kolisi and flyhalf Handre Pollard - to be ready for the World Cup and be in top form even though they may not play a game before the start of the tournament.
“Siya and Handre are the two players who will be out for the longest, and hopefully they will be fit before the World Cup. If it is not the case, we will have to make a decision, but if you look at the two of them, they have both proved what they can do and that counts in their favour,” Nienaber said.
“It means that you would look at taking a Siya or a Handre to the World Cup without playing a game because you know what they have done in the past. Siya was in the same situation in 2019, where he hadn’t played a game and went to the World Cup. I think he played the warm-up game against Japan and he was good at the World Cup.
“Handre was the same before the British and Irish Lions - he came back from a knee injury and helped us win the series. Those players have shown in the past that they could come back from an injury into a big competition and perform.
“But they aren’t players we will press. They need to complete their rehab and if they are available then we will pick them.”