The Springboks emerged from their thrilling 49-3 win over Fiji on Saturday with a clean bill of health, team doctor, Dr Craig Roberts, reported on Sunday.
The squad was without five players because of niggling injuries but mercifully saw no players added to that list after six try to nil demolition. “It’s not often that I can sit after a physical game like that and say that we have no injuries, but apart from the normal bumps and bruises we got away with a clean bill of health,” said Dr Roberts.
He explained that Bakkies Botha’s replacement at halftime had been part of a pre-arranged plan to get the experienced lock back into match action, having not played since the win over New Zealand in Port Elizabeth in mid August.
“The plan with Bakkies was always to sub him at halftime and he came through nicely and as planned,” said Dr Roberts. “We have five other guys nursing little niggles and injuries and we will reassess them at training tomorrow. It’ll then be up to the coach to the make the call in regards to selection for Namibia, depending on how the guys come through.”
He added that Victor Matfield’s comeback from a hamstring strain was progressing to plan: “Victor has done really well,” said Dr Roberts. “He has done a lot of intensive rehabilitation last week and has made good progress, but it’s a long tournament and we are not going to rush him back. We are happy with where he is at the moment and we’ll reassess him at training tomorrow.”
Assistant coach Dick Muir said he was pleased with the display although there were was still work to be done. “It was a nice improvement. We went into this campaign a little underdone and we wanted to show some steady improvement – and I think we did that. I was particularly pleased with our attack and to score six tries against Fiji and not to concede was pleasing and shows we’re on the right track.”
Muir said the focus was now firmly on Namibia and not on the quarter-final permutations. The team has relocated to the central North Island to a lakeside resort area before switching to Auckland on Wednesday on the eve of the match against their Southern African neighbours.
“We went into the campaign saying we’ll take it game for game and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” said Muir. “It’s a short turnaround this week with a match on Thursday and the guys who weren’t available for the previous match might not be available for this match.
“But it’s nice for us to get away into the countryside, but we know we have got some hard work to get through this week and we’ve only got two training sessions to do so and we’ll be hard at work tomorrow to do that.
“We have had two very physical hit outs and I expect it to be the same against the Namibia and Samoa after that and we just want to keep the momentum going. We will start to think about who we play in the quarterfinals when we get there.”