WELLINGTON, New Zealand, July 28 – South African rugby boss Jurie Roux stepped into the row over claims of a secret training camp for key Springboks, confirming they were together but saying it was for rehabilitation.
Reports from South Africa have said 21 players listed as “injured” and not available for the Tri-Nations Tests in Australasia were attending a World Cup training camp in Rustenburg with Springboks’ technical director Rassie Erasmus.
The group were said to be the basis of the squad tasked with winning a third World Cup for South Africa.
The vastly inexperienced touring South African side which took the field against Australia last weekend was trounced 39-20, and a team with an even greener look has been named to play the All Blacks in Wellington this Saturday.
The missing stars include Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana, but South Africa Rugby Union chief executive Jurie Roux rubbished media claims they were fit and in a secret World Cup training camp.
“I’m not denying they’re in Rustenburg. I’m denying that they’re at a secret training camp. I’ve got my players in a single high performance entity being rehabilitated, that’s it,” he saidThursday.
“What do you do with an injured player? You don’t send them off to Bali or Mauritius to have a holiday.
“You put them into a high performance centre, you put them with the best doctor you can find, and you put them on a programme to rehabilitate them to get to the World Cup. What more would you expect?”
Roux expressed surprise at what he labelled a “conspiracy” of media reports emanating from South Africa.
“I don’t understand the conspiracy, I don’t understand the confusion,” he said.
“I run a multi-million-rand corporation where my biggest assets are my players. They’re injured so I need to do something to get them ready for the World Cup, and get them in an environment.”
Coach Peter de Villiers, meanwhile, described the depleted side that will face the All Blacks on Saturday as having “a chance to do something special”.
“The team we will have on the park is the team we think is the best to do the job,” he said.