MTN Golden Lions lock Franco van der Merwe has been called up to the Springbok squad currently preparing for the final Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test of 2013, on Saturday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
The experienced Van der Merwe has been part of the squad for most of the competition and takes the place of the suspended Flip van der Merwe.
“Losing any player, for whatever reasons, is never ideal but Franco knows our structures and plans very well, having been part of the squad since June last year,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Franco van der Merwe will join the squad at their base in Johannesburg on Monday.
On the injury front, apart from the normal bumps and bruises, only JJ Engelbrecht (centre) is a slight concern at the moment. He is nursing an injured quad muscle and will be given as much time as he needs to fully recover.
Below is the SANZAR media release relating to Flip van der Merwe’s suspension:
SPRINGBOK LOCK FLIP VAN DER MERWE SUSPENDED FOR ONE WEEK
A SANZAR Judicial Hearing has found Flip van der Merwe of South Africa guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous Tackling, which also constituted a breach of Law 10.4 (a) Striking after he was cited during a match at the weekend in The Rugby Championship.
Van der Merwe has been suspended for one week up to and including 5th October 2013.
The incident occurred in the 39th minute of the match between South Africa and Australia at DHL Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday 28th September.
The SANZAR Judicial Hearing was held via video conference on Monday 30th September at 8am SAST, 4pm AEST, 7pm NZDT, 3am ART.
In his finding, Nicholas Davidson QC ruled the following:
The player was initially sin-binned for a dangerous tackle but the citing alleged a deliberate striking. After hearing from the player’s counsel Mr Stephan Weyers, the player and Mr Ian Schwartz, the South African Manager, the Judicial Officer concluded that this was a breach of Law 10.4 (e) as a dangerous tackle executed high and leading with the forearm and without any attempt to grasp the player in the initial contact.
It was also a strike under Law 10.4 (a) but not intentional as cited. Mr Mike Mika, a former professional player, assisted the Judicial Officer.
Van der Merwe has a good disciplinary record at international and Super Rugby level and has never before been suspended. Mr Schwartz spoke extremely well of him as a player and a personality in the game. Although breach was denied, the Judicial Officer concluded that his record and conduct including a concerned approach to the Australian player warranted a discount to a one-week suspension only.