The Springbok rugby team walked into double trouble when they arrived here on Thursday to prepare for next week’s Tri-Nations Test against Australia.
After a chilly reception from an army of journalists at the airport, coach Jake White and captain Bob Skinstad discovered they had been crime victims.
Skinstad’s laptop computer, camera and cellphone had been removed from his bag and White’s bag had been cut open. It was not immediately known whether he had lost anything.
“My bag was not cut but I’ve lost several items,” Skinstad said.
The Springboks were not completely prepared for the welcome they received from the Australian news media.
The storm over the “weakened” team chosen for the tour of Australia and New Zealand had not died down.
Even though no news conference had been scheduled media representatives were waiting for the Springboks.
There was no chance of slipping into the country unseen because the Australian Rugby Union had provided details of the team’s arrival to the reporters.
Nowhere to run
After the long flight across nine time zones White and Skinstad could also not grab their overloaded luggage trolleys and try to sprint away from the flashing cameras and unfriendly faces at the Kingston Smith Airport.
White had to explain, again, his decision to leave 20 of his leading players at home.
“I say again, this is our best team if you take into account exhaustion and injuries,” White replied when he was asked whether his selection had discredited the game.
“I am sure the players will acquit themselves well,” White said, referring to next week’s match at the Telstra Stadium. “I think it will still be an even battle.”
Skinstad was asked whether the selection of the team was an insult to Australian rugby. “No comment,: he said.
The team’s media manager, Vusi Kama, brought the “interview” to an end. In at least one television news bulletin it was later reported that White had been gagged.
Meanwhile Australian Rugby Union Ceo John O’Neill threatened that he would consider claiming compensation should the union make a loss because of poor ticket sales.