Two members of the Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship squad, Eben Etzebeth and Frans Malherbe, have been released to play in the opening round of the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division for DHL Western Province on Friday evening.
Both players are returning from long-term injuries and will be allowed some game time for DHL WP to ease them back into the game.Etzebeth’s last game was in November 2013, for the Springboks against France in Paris, where he picked up a foot injury. Malherbe has been out for more than three months with concussion.
“Following medical assessments and consultation between our medical team and those of the various provinces, it was decided to release Eben and Frans for this weekend,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“The provincial CEOs have all been part of the discussions on how to best manage our players and relating to the way in which injured players will return to the playing field.
“In the cases of Eben and Frans, who both have been out for extended periods of time, the Springboks’ and DHL Western Province’s medical teams decided that the best course of action would be for them to get some game time this weekend.”
Etzebeth and Malherbe, who have taken a full part in Springbok training since Monday afternoon, will join DHL Western Province on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Victor Matfield is suffering from a small tear in a cartilage after being sent for scans today (Tuesday) morning after feeling some discomfort in his knee at training on Monday. He was seen by an orthopaedic specialist in Pretoria and will be unavailable for the Test against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 16 August.
“Victor’s injury will initially be treated conservatively and a decision on his further participation in the competition will be made during the course of next week,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.
The other injury concern at this stage in the Springbok squad is Jean de Villiers, who is returning from a knee injury he sustained during Vodacom Super Rugby in May.
“We’ll only know at a later stage if Jean will be ready to face Argentina next week in Pretoria. In Victor’s case, we will have to call up a short-term replacement, which we’ll announce as soon as possible,” said Meyer.
“Jean is our captain and one of the most experienced players in the squad. We’ll give him as much time as possible to recover; however, replacement cover can be called up if he is ruled out of the Test at Loftus Versfeld.”