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Major blow for South Africa as du Preez ruled out of Rugby Championship

Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar may step into the number nine jersey in the 32-year-old’s absence.

Du Preez was first-choice scrum-half against Wales last month.
Du Preez was first-choice scrum-half against Wales last month.
Image: Barry Aldworth

SOUTH AFRICA HEAD coach Heyneke Meyer has been dealt a blow to his hopes of winning the 2014 Rugby Championship with news that first-choice scrum-half Fourie du Preez will miss the competition.

The 32-year-old picked up the ankle injury in the first half of last weekend’s 55-6 hammering of Scotland in Port Elizabeth. An MRI scan yesterday confirmed that du Preez suffered an anterior syndesmotic injury and will be out of action for three months.

The Suntory Goliath halfback started all three of the Springboks’ Tests against Wales and the Scots this summer, while he appeared off the bench in the clash against a World XV in early June.

Meyer is fortunate in having the quality of Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar and Francois Hougaard of the Blue Bulls as back-up to du Preez, although Ulster fans might be concerned if one of their key players was to have a hectic international involvement in the coming months.

The Sharks’ Cobus Reinach and Louis Schreuder of the Stormers provide further options, even if the latter was injured recently. Rory Kockott of Castres has been one of the best players in France for the last two years, but remains an outside bet for now.

It’s a massive blow to lose yet another world-class player and a key player due to an injury,” Meyer told SA Rugby in relation to du Preez’s injury. “Fourie is also a dynamic leader and one of the vice-captains in our team and his injury is a huge setback.

“Fourie has been brilliant since he returned to the Springboks last year and he will be missed. However, this provides an opportunity for other scrum-halves to prove themselves and make the step up when the opportunity arises.”

Ruan Pienaar 17/5//2014 Ruan Pienaar may step into a starring role for the Boks. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Du Preez joins Pieter-Steph du Toit, Arno Botha, Jaque Fourie, Pierre Spies and Flip van der Merwe in being ruled out of The Rugby Championship. South Africa finished second to New Zealand in last year’s version of the Southern Hemisphere tournament, losing twice to Steve Hansen’s team.

The Boks open their campaign this season with an encounter against Argentina in Pretoria on the 16th of August, before travelling to Salta to face the Pumas again a week later.

How do you think South Africa will do in this year’s Rugby Championship? Do they have the quality to beat New Zealand?

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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