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Prop-lems for Springboks in lead up to Pumas clash

By Harry West
Frans Malherbe /Getty

South Africa have suffered a blow with the news that prop Frans Malherbe is likely to miss the start of their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina at the weekend due to a neck injury.

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The Springboks were thought to be already resigned to losing front-row Ruan Dreyer, who had been reportedly released to be with his family as he is expecting to become a father this week, but the team announced on Monday that Dreyer would take Malherbe’s place.

Coenie Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane are also in line to take a starting berth for the tournament opener in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The Pumas are traditionally fearsome when it comes to scrum time, meaning the absence of Malherbe is a genuine concern for head coach Allister Coetzee.

“Frans started complaining of neck pain on Thursday and over the weekend it started radiating down his arm, so we are concerned for a disc injury,” said Boks team doctor Konrad von Hagen.

“So we will have a scan done later today and after that we will know about his availability for the game.

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“The scan will tell me, and I need to know is it a disc injury or a facet joint. If it is a facet join it will get better quickly whereas a disc will take longer.

“At the end of the scan I will know what the prognosis will be and if we need to get a specialist involvement we will and we will then decide what the plan is for him in terms of the long-term.”

Flankers Jaco Kriel (flu) and Siya Kolisi (ankle) are both back in contention, while the Springboks are waiting to see how scrum-half Ross Cronje recovers from a rib injury.

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Hooker Malcolm Marx (shoulder) is back to full health, while number 10 Handre Pollard (ankle) and captain Warren Whiteley (abdominal) continue their rehabilitation from longer-term issues.

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