Grieving Springboks Etzebeth, Hendrikse available to face Pumas

Grieving Springboks Etzebeth, Hendrikse available to face Pumas

Grieving Springboks Eben Etzebeth and Jaden Hendrikse will be available for South Africa when they tackle Argentina on July 29 in a Rugby Championship final-round match.

Jaden Hendrikse

The fathers of stand-in captain and lock Etzebeth and scrum-half Hendrikse died recently, casting sadness over the 43-man squad of the reigning Rugby World Cup champions.

Etzebeth was in New Zealand when his father, Harry, died after a long battle with cancer, and the forward opted to remain and lead the team in a 35-20 loss to the All Blacks last weekend.

Hendrikse, who had been recovering from a shoulder injury, did not travel to Auckland after the death of his father Brian.

Etzebeth is certain to be part of the 33-man World Cup squad that will defend the title in France, starting with a match against Scotland in Marseille on September 10.

Hendrikse, first choice Faf de Klerk, Grant Williams, Cobus Reinach and Herschel Jantjies are competing for what is presumed will be three scrum-half berths.

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber confirmed to reporters on Wednesday that Etzebeth and Nienaber will be considered for selection against the Pumas at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

With New Zealand holding a four-point lead before facing struggling Australia in Melbourne, the clash between South Africa and Argentina is likely to decide who finishes runners-up.


- Pollard may face Wales -

New Zealand have nine points in a competition reduced to a single round before the World Cup kicks off in Paris on September 8, South Africa five, Argentina four and Australia one.

Eight of the nine World Cup tournaments have been won by southern hemisphere teams, and the Rugby Championship offers timely competitive match practice close to each global showpiece.

Nienaber said injury-prone fly-half Handre Pollard, who has not played for the Springboks since an August 2022 loss in Australia, is making good progress recovering from a calf injury.

The coach said he expected the Leicester Tigers playmaker to be available for the second of three World Cup warm-up matches, against Wales in Cardiff on August 19.

Captain and flanker Siya Kolisi, who suffered a serious knee injury in April but is poised to skipper the Springboks in France, may also return to action in the Cardiff Test.

South Africa play Argentina in Buenos Aires on August 5 and New Zealand in London on August 25 in other pre-World Cup internationals.

After Scotland, the defending champions face Romania in Bordeaux on September 17, Ireland in Paris on September 23 and Tonga in Marseille on October 1 in the World Cup.

The top two Pool B finishers -- the match between Ireland and South Africa is expected to decide who comes first and second -- will advance to the quarter-finals.



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