Over the last two weeks, a number of Springbok players have returned to the playing field after injury lay-offs had them in doubt for the incoming British and Irish Lions Tour scheduled for July. The Springbok management would have been delighted at the sight of Eben Etzebeth making his return off the bench for Toulon on the weekend, and he isn’t their only reason to smile.
Two weeks ago Handre Pollard made his come back from injury when he took to the field for Montpellier in the European Challenge Cup against Bath. The player had been out since September last year with a serious knee injury that he picked up in only his second appearance for the side. He came on in the second half to kick a late penalty. Fortunately his side has enough games scheduled between now and the tour, for the player to gain some much needed match fitness. There is no doubt that the general of the Springboks backline is crucial to our success as we face off against the best of the United Kingdom.
The revised Rainbow Nations Cup has also seen the return of key Springboks Duane Vermeulen and Siya Kolisi after both underwent conditioning programs and some much needed rest. Both players have come out firing for their respective franchises and will also be relishing at the chance to get some game time under their belts. The pair will go head to head this coming weekend when the Sharks face the Bulls in a top of the table clash, in which both sides are presently undefeated.
Elsewhere, Pieter-Steph Du Toit has made a timely return for the Stormers when they faced the Sharks two weeks ago. The player hasn’t seen any action in over a year after suffering a leg injury against the Blues in February 2020 during the defunct Super Rugby season, which almost resulted in an amputation. The flanker’s prowess at the 2019 World Cup earned him World Rugby Player of the Year and the Springboks will need a key member of their pack firing if they are to impose themselves in the forward battle.
Eben Etzebeth sustained a freak finger injury earlier in the year with the bone visibly protruding. He has made his way back and turned out for Toulon against Montpellier in the Top14 this past Friday. Etzebeth will be relishing some game time before his clash with England and British and Irish Lions lock, Maro Itoje. The two are likely to pack down opposite each other later in the year and are arguably the best locks in the world at the moment.
Whilst most of the 2019 Springbok squad is currently fit, the likes of bomb squad members RG Snyman and Lood De Jager however are in doubt as both have suffered long term injuries and are yet to return to contact training.