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Otto returns home in blow for Boks
July 17, 2000

The Springboks' hopes of beating the All Blacks in their opening Tri-Nations Test at Jade Stadium on Saturday suffered a debilitating knock on Monday with the news that lock Krynauw Otto is on his way home due to a contusion to the brain.

The experienced Otto suffered a knock against the head as early as the 10th minute of the Mandela Challenge against Australia in Melbourne two weeks ago, but stayed on the field until the end of the game. He complained of headaches afterwards, but a CAT scan done in Melbourne revealed no damage.

A doctor in Brisbane did a colour contrast scan, but also to no avail. The doctor prescribed some medication for Otto's condition after which he was fine for a while and the headaches disappeared. When the medication was finished, however, the headaches came back. A MIR scan was done and a contusion to the brain was diagnosed.

Frans Verster, the Springbok team doctor, advised Otto to rest and refrain from all contact for at least a month, effectively ruling him out of the Tri-Nations. After the month, another MIR scan will be done on the player to establish whether he has recovered sufficiently and, if it is necessary, further steps will be taken.

Otto is a veteran of 38 Tests and his absence from the Springbok team for the Tri-Nations comes as a hammer blow for coach Nick Mallett, whose resources at lock is already depleted by the heel injury to Selborne Boome. However, Mallett has already announced his intention to shift Andre Venter from flank to lock in order to get more aggression and bulk up the tight five.

With Boome not 100 per cent fit, the coach is forced to start with the mobile, but much lighter Albert van den Berg. Jannes Labuschagne, who was drafted into the touring squad in place of centre Japie Mulder, will be on the bench and is set to make his Test debut at Jade Stadium.

A spokesperson for the Springbok team said Mallett has not considered bringing in a replacement for Otto as Labuschagne is already with the team.

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