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Ireland v South Africa: Beware! Dismiss injury-hit champs at your peril

Where to start? It has been such an awful season for the Springboks.

In the Tri-Nations they only managed a truly miserable one win from six outings – a long distant cry from the all-conquering side that met Ireland last November.

The world champions only touched down this side of the equator yesterday which is, well, rather bizarre when a team both decimated by injury and generally believed to be out on their feet with battle-weariness must quickly acclimatise for a major test match two days later.

It would seem that a combination of their recently completed domestic season – the Currie Cup final was won by the Sharks on Saturday – and Monday night’s Player of the Year gala night led to gaffe prone head coach Peter De Villiers announcing the delay to the squad’s departure.

They certainly have their troubles as the make-up of the squad, led by Victor Matfield, arrives on these shores weighed down by a calamitous-looking injury list.

Schalk Burger and Juan de Jongh were late withdrawals earlier this week and joined a long list of those not making the tour including John Smit, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Andries Bekker, Fourie du Preez, Heinrich Brussow, JP Pietersen, Gurthro Steenkamp, Butch James, Ricky Januarie and even Ulster’s BJ Botha.

Oh and just to add further misery, Paris-based Francois Steyn is also not available for tomorrow’s game as his club Racing Metro are not obliged to release him and have opted not to so.

So, De Villiers has plenty of problems before a ball has even been kicked.

But for all the turbulence, you write them off at your own peril.

Belfast Telegraph

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