Springbok tests leave trail of injuries
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The mid-year internationals left the usual trail of injuries in South Africa ahead of the return of Super Rugby this weekend, with Springboks No. 8 Pierre Spies ruled out for the season on Tuesday.
The South African conference-leading Bulls have been hardest hit, with captain Spies and fellow loose forward Arno Botha out for the rest of 2013, missing the culmination of the Super Rugby competition, the Rugby Championship and South Africa’s end-of-year internationals.
Scrumhalf Jano Vermaak and utility Francois Hougaard are also sidelined with hamstring and knee injuries respectively following South Africa’s tests this month against Italy, Scotland and Samoa. They are in doubt for the Bulls’ Super Rugby return against the Southern Kings on Saturday.
The Pretoria-based Bulls said on Tuesday that Spies tore a bicep muscle in the win over Samoa on Saturday and won’t play again in 2013. He will have surgery later Tuesday, Bulls doctor Org Strauss said.
Botha ruptured left knee ligaments minutes into his second test for the Springboks against Scotland on June 15 and also will miss the rest of the season after surgery.
Springboks captain Jean de Villiers will not play in the Cape Town-based Stormers’ first game back in the Super 15 against the Cheetahs because of a chest injury he picked up in the international window.
Stormers No. 8 Duane Vermeulen was sidelined for the Super Rugby season before the test break with a knee ligament problem and Spies’ injury compounds South Africa’s problems at No. 8 ahead of the Rugby Championship start in August.
This year is the second season that Super Rugby has broken in June for South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to play mid-year tests.
The South African and New Zealand teams will continue with Super Rugby games on Friday and Saturday. The five Australian teams rejoin the competition from July 12, after Australia’s ongoing series against the British and Irish Lions.
Australia had five backline players injured in its opening test loss to the Lions on Saturday.