Springboks boosted by return of Jaden Hendrikse ahead of Argentina clash

FILE - Springbok scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse during a training session. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

FILE - Springbok scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse during a training session. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 19, 2023


The Springbok squad to host Argentina next week in Johannesburg has been boosted by the return of scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse but there is no such luck for Ox Nche, who remains on the injury list.

The Bok squad reassembled in Pretoria on Wednesday following a two-day break after their return from New Zealand.

Hendrikse enjoyed a number of starts for the Boks last year but this season suffered a long-term shoulder injury playing for the Sharks and last week he was granted compassionate leave because of a family bereavement.

Loosehead prop Nche injured a pectoral muscle on the eve of the match against the Wallabies a fortnight ago and it looks like he could be out for some time. Bulls prop Gerhard Steenekamp continues as a squad replacement for Nche.

Otherwise, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has retained the same extended group of players, with lock Eben Etzebeth joining his teammates on Sunday (he has had time off following the death of his father).

“We have a settled squad, and everyone is determined to get back to action and to bounce back following the result against New Zealand,” said Nienaber.

“We are bitterly disappointed about the defeat, but we’ll take the lessons from that match and implement that as we look forward to our final match in the competition.”

The match at Emirates Airline Park will be the Boks’ final appearance on South African soil in 2023 and after seven successive home sell-outs since the start of the 2022 season, Nienaber said the team was excited to mark their farewell Test in front of their passionate home crowd.

“Playing such a vital match in front of our supporters is always special,” said Nienaber. “This match may not only be the decider of the Rugby Championship, but it’s also the last match we play at home before the World Cup.

“That passionate support almost serves as an extra player for us, so we’d like to appeal to SA’s rugby faithful to come out in their green and gold and make this a memorable send-off for us.”

Nienaber said that managing player load in the run-up to the departure for France remained a key focus: “One of the boxes we ticked in the last two weeks was to work on our player load. Getting that balance right is going to be vital so that we can peak at the right time this season.

“We have a sizeable squad, and we need to ensure that we give as many players as possible the chance to stake a claim for places in the World Cup squad, while at the same time getting the desired results so we can build momentum going into the World Cup.”

Nienaber added: “We have four matches left before the international showpiece and we are still in the race for the Championship title so we intend to get down to business immediately and make the most of the time we have on and off the training field to get the squad where we would like them to be mentally and physically.”

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