Cape Town – Elton Jantjies remains a major doubt ahead of the Springboks’ series opener against Ireland in Cape Town on Saturday.
Team doctor Konrad von Hagen could not say on Monday whether or not Jantjies was likely to be available for the Test, but he did confirm that the Lions flyhalf is still not taking contact at training.
That, said Von Hagen, was only expected to happen on Thursday.
Jantjies broke the middle finger on his right hand in a Super Rugby clash against the Jagaures in May, but the word from Bok management at the beginning of last week’s training camp in Stellenbosch was that he should be fit for the Newlands Test.
Now it seems that Jantjies is in a race against time to earn his third Test cap and first since 2012.
“The thing is, it’s still a fracture. We just want to give him as much time as possible not to take contact so the plan is for him to take contact on Thursday,” Von Hagen said.
“It’s just about that slight chance that now he’s going to fall and land on his hand … if your hand is fine and somebody steps on it you can still break it, we just don’t want to take that risk at this stage.”
There was better news on the Pieter-Steph du Toit front.
The Stormers lock was expected to miss most, if not all, of the Ireland series after picking up a hamstring strain.
But it now appears that he could come into contention as early as this weekend.
“Pieter-Steph du Toit is recovering very well which is part of his final phase rehabilitation,” said Von Hagen.
“He will be part of our training session this afternoon (Monday) as well.”
Still, Von Hagen could not make any predictions on the availability of either Jantjies or Du Toit.
“Not really, no … we’re going to see how they go during the week,” he said.
“If we give them the clearance it’s still the coach’s prerogative to decide whether to play them or not. I can’t say … at this stage both of them are doing well.”
If Jantjies did play, he would do so in a custom-made brace.
“We’ve made him a custom-made little brace, according to the rules that he is allowed to play with,” said Von Hagen.
“That just protects that little area and he will be training with it as well. He’s tested it out in training last week and he’s feeling quite comfortable in it.
“It’s like a sand-splint … like a plastic that they warm and then you mold it accordingly.
“Then you also have to put a lining on so that it doesn’t hurt the other players and also on the inside so it’s not plastic on bone.”
Allister Coetzee will name his match-day squad on Thursday.