Key Springboks duo doubtful for 3rd Lions test

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Key South Africa duo Pieter-Steph du Toit and Faf de Klerk remain injury doubts for the decisive final test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday.

Both were substituted during last weekend's grueling second test, which was won 27-9 by the Springboks. Du Toit was replaced after 22 minutes with a shoulder injury and De Klerk taken out during the final quarter after what appeared to be a hip problem.

However, there was some good news for the hosts with the revelation that World Cup winner Duane Vermeulen was expected to join training on Monday after being called up to the squad on Sunday.

“We are in the 48-hour protocol of assessing all injuries,” South Africa assistant coach Deon Davids said Monday. “The medical staff are working closely with the coaching group and we’ll make an announcement on that (Du Toit and De Klerk) tomorrow.

“It’s fantastic to have a guy like Duane in the group. He will join the training session today and was already in our review meetings this morning, so hopefully we will have more information on his position tomorrow.”

The Springboks, who announce their team for the third test on Tuesday, made even further additions to their squad for that final test on Monday with scrumhalf Rosko Specman, loose forward Dan du Preez and hooker Johan Grobbelaar all drafted in.

Less than 24 hours earlier South Africa had confirmed that the influential Vermeulen — who has made 54 appearances for the Springboks — had joined the squad in Cape Town and rookie scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse was also called-up by head coach Jacques Nienaber for the series decider.

Apart from Vermeulen, who missed the opening two matches of the series with an ankle injury and has been undergoing rehabilitation following surgery several weeks ago, the other four new faces were not expected to feature against the Lions.

Nienaber’s intention is to allow them to gain some experience ahead of what is a busy few months for the Springboks.

“We have a tough Rugby Championship series ahead after Saturday’s series decider against the British and Irish Lions and given the strict COVID-19 protocols we have to adhere to, we have decided to bring the players in sooner rather than later,” he said.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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