The Junior Springboks suffered a huge injury setback on Tuesday with the news that three players were ruled out of their vital IRB Junior World Championship Pool C clash this coming Friday against New Zealand.
Midfielder Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who came on as second half replacement against Scotland in the JWC opener at the QBE Stadium on Monday, will return home after he sustained an ankle injury in the match. He will be replaced by Duhan van der Merwe, a SA Sevens contracted player and a member of the Junior Boks’ training group.
Powerful inside centre Andre Esterhuizen was ruled out of action for the next couple of days after receiving a blow to the head in the second half against the Scots. He will not be considered for the New Zealand clash. The team’s medical staff is currently managing him according to the Graduated Return to Play Protocol (GRTP).
The third casualty is flanker Jacques Vermeulen. The Cape-based loose forward is also suffering from an ankle injury and has been ruled out of Friday’s encounter.
On Tuesday, Junior Springboks coach, Dawie Theron described the three injuries as a huge blow for his team.
“We all know how vital the match against New Zealand is and to have three players ruled out of action is a massive blow for us,” said Theron.
He was full of praise for the contribution of all three players in the comprehensive 61-5 win over Scotland on Monday.
“Andre made ten tackles and he was powerful and aggressive in midfield. He gave us a good presence on defence and was very good in taking the ball over the advantage line.
“Jacques was very involved upfront, made 16 tackles and was also good in general play. And Rohan really showed his experience of playing at this level when he came on as a second half substitute,” said Theron.
Van Rensburg was one of three Junior Springboks on the field with previous JWC experience under their belt.
The squad had a relative quiet day following their opening match in North Harbour, Auckland. The match 23 completed their recovery activities at the team hotel while the rest of the squad attended a legacy programme activity at the nearby Beach Haven Primary school.
The South Africans return to the training field on Wednesday and will have two sessions, one of which will be an evening exercise.