12 September 2017

South Africa: Injuries to Decide All Blacks v Boks Clash?

Those players out injured could go some way to deciding the outcome of Saturday's Rugby Championship clash between the All Blacks and Springboks in Albany, rather than those on the field of play.

Both sides have been hard hit by injuries and will enter the cauldron that is North Harbour Stadium in Albany without several of their first-choice match day selections, thus testing the depth of both squads.

The Boks lost prop Coenie Oosthuizen after the burly front-ranker broke his arm against the Wallabies in their 23-23 draw in Perth last Saturday.

Although Oosthuizen hasn't been a regular starter in his 29 Tests in the Green & Gold to date, his form in 2017 has improved markedly and will be missed from what has been an impressive Bok scrum this season.

Tuesday's confirmation that flank Jaco Kriel is heading home with a shoulder injury is a further blow to the Boks' pack.

Kriel, long overdue a run in the starting XV in many supporters' eyes, put in a stellar shift in the Perth stalemate in particular.

His loose trio partnership with Siya Kolisi and Uzair Cassiem has gone a long way to helping the national side turn around their fortunes this campaign.

Similarly, the All Blacks have been hard hit in the front row with Owen Franks and Joe Moody both watching Saturday's showdown from the stands.

The absence of Franks, who is nursing a troublesome Achilles' injury, and Moody, who broke his arm against Argentina last Saturday, will see the world champions lose a staggering 130 Test caps - and will no doubt give the Boks reason for optimism at scrum-time in particular.

In addition, star fullback-cum-wing Ben Smith has been granted a sabbatical and will be a key absentee.

Tuesday also saw reports that natural successor to Smith, Israel Dagg , is struggling with a knee injury.

Victory for the All Blacks on Saturday will go a long way to helping them defend their Rugby Championship title, while the Springboks will be looking for their first victory in New Zealand since 2009 when Peter de Villiers led his side to a 32-29 win in Hamilton.

Saturday's clash will kick off at 09:35 SA time.

Source: Sport24

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