NEWCASTLE, September 30- South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer faces a new injury dilemma replacing captain Jean de Villiers for their key World Cup game against Scotland on Saturday.
De Villiers abruptly retired from international rugby after suffering a broken jaw against Samoa last week.
But because prime candidates to take over are among the walking wounded Meyer put back the announcement of his team to play Scotland by several hours until late Wednesday.
Veteran vice-captain and frontrunner Victor Matfield, 38, is struggling with a hamstring strain and must prove his fitness Wednesday. scrumhalf Fourie du Preez (ribs) is also in doubt.
These and a number of other injuries forced the cancellation of Monday’s training and the delay in the team announcement.
Other candidates include Duane Vermeulen, who only returned from a neck injury in the 46-6 rout of Samoa at Villa Park last week.
Flanker Francois Louw, hooker Adriaan Strauss and loose forward Schalk Burger, who captained the Boks against the All Blacks this year, could also get the nod.
There was little indication at Tuesday’s practice session as to who will take the leadership. But South Africa must be certain to avoid a repeat of their shock loss when they take on the Scots at Newcastle United’s St James Park.
As De Villiers arrived back home in South Africa to a big welcome, his replacement Jan Serfontein joined his team-mates for his first training session and was said he was “shocked” to receive the call-up.
“I was surprised to get the call,” the Blue Bulls midfielders said.
“I was watching the Wales-England game and I got a call from coach Heyneke saying that Jean is injured and that he was considering picking me and he would only confirm it on Sunday.
“I couldn’t sleep the night and got the news on Sunday, but I’m happy to be here now and will do everything I can to contribute.”
Serfontein missed out on the World Cup squad because of the emergence of midfielders Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel. The duo, if fit, are likely to start against Scotland.
De Allende has a knee ligament strain and Kriel a nasty gash to the cheek after taking a boot in the face in the Samoa win.
Serfontein, who played all 12 tests for the Boks in 2014, struggled with a hip flexor injury this year, which hampered his chances of making it to the World Cup.
“I was very disappointed, it was tough but I got a chance to get some game time at Currie Cup level that I was happy about,” Serfontein said.
“It was a difficult season, I had a couple of injuries, which didn’t help, at vital times in the season and Jesse did very well and got his chance. I can’t complain or anything but the life gives you a few curveballs, and you have to adapt.”
The Springboks are also expected to bring back fiery hooker Bismarck du Plessis to the match day squad.