Botha blow for Boks
September 8, 2011
Bakkies Botha looks set to miss South Africa's World Cup opener against Wales © Getty Images
South Africa assistant coach Dick Muir has admitted that Bakkies Botha is highly unlikely to be risked in Sunday's World Cup clash with Wales in Wellington.
It was revealed earlier this week that Botha's Achilles tendinosis, a complaint he has been struggling with for some time, had flared up and Muir believes that it would be foolish for the Springboks to risk one of their most important players in the opening game of what they hope will be a long campaign.
"We are a little bit worried about Bakkies - he is our major concern," he said of the veteran lock. "It's his Achilles, and being a big man he obviously takes a lot of pressure in that area.
"He's so important for us for the remainder of the competition that we wouldn't take any chances with Bakkies. We will take it week by week - but I think he is going to be out this week unfortunately."
There is also a worry over Botha's long-time partner in the Springbok second row, Victor Matfield, who has been suffering with a tight hamstring. However, Matfield is expected to start and is locking forward to locking horns with the Welsh, whom he felt displayed impressive intensity and physicality in last month's warm-up win over England.
"We all know they do a very hard-pressing defence and they compete very hard at ruck time," he said. "In that last game against England, England really struggled to get any quick ruck ball, so that is something we have really been focusing on.
"We've also been targeting the breakdown. We need to be accurate, and we will also probably talk to the referee (England's Wayne Barnes) about that to see what we can do there to keep them within the laws.
"This is a big game for us. We have been focusing on Wales for quite some time now, so hopefully we can get everything right and it will be a good occasion for us.
"We've got a very tough pool. I think Fiji will come out firing, and Samoa played very well against Australia recently, so there are going to be quite a few tough games."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in PIctures
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year