South Africa wait on key duo as All Blacks loom

South Africa wait on key duo as All Blacks loom
By Reuters

29/09/2014 at 19:08Updated 29/09/2014 at 20:34

South Africa have injury concerns to key players ahead of their final Rugby Championship match against already crowned champions New Zealand in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Number eight Duane Vermeulen, one of the stand-out performers for the Springboks in 2014, is battling with a rib injury sustained in the 28-10 victory over Australia and will face a fitness late test on match-day.

"Duane fell awkwardly and injured a rib cartilage," Bok team doctor Craig Roberts told reporters on Monday.

"Due to discomfort he was unable to continue playing and was substituted. He's responded well to treatment but we will still manage him through training this week before making a final call on his availability to face New Zealand on Saturday."

Should he not be fit it is likely that veteran loose-forward Schalk Burger will take over at the back of the scrum.

The only other injury concern is winger Bryan Habana, who took a blow to the head while making a tackle in the build-up to Australia's only try at Newlands.

"Bryan left the field and the standard head injury assessment was conducted by the match doctor, which cleared him to return to play," Roberts said.

"Although Bryan returned to the field late in the first half, he developed some symptoms of concussion at the break and we decided to replace him permanently with JP Pietersen.

"He will need to follow the standard stepwise post-concussion return to play protocol before being considered for the Test at Ellis Park."

The Springbok team to face New Zealand will be named on Wednesday.