The announcement that Australia would be the host of the 2020 Rugby Championship over New Zealand left a growing number of Springbok fans uneasy about the prospect of playing test rugby this year.

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Before the announcement, conjecture around which hemisphere they would play in this year offered the chance to explore the option that suited the Springboks best.

The confirmation that the Rugby Championship would go ahead in Australia put the Springboks on a path to overcome perhaps the greatest challenge yet, preparing for test rugby with extremely limited preparation against the All Blacks and Wallabies, who both have played individual iterations of Super Rugby.

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There is nothing scarier than a wounded All Black side

The prospect of an undercooked Springbok side playing an entire tournament in a foreign land was labelled a ‘recipe for the disaster’, with one fan saying he doesn’t ‘want the Boks to get massacred’ in their first tournament as world champions.

A bad result could ruin the momentum created by the World Cup, tarnish the gloss of the world champion tag and ‘ruin team morale for the Lions tour’. Compounded with a growing number of key injuries, the Springboks would be up against it to defend their Rugby Championship crown.

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News that Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard suffered a long-term knee injury playing for Montpellier added to the growing injury toll of key Springbok players, with RG Snyman and Lood de Jager all recently injured playing in Europe. A number of fans expect a second string side full of up and comers would have to be sent to Australia.

This sentiment was echoed by former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen who said it ‘doesn’t make any sense’ to play the games.

“I honestly believe they should not play in the Championship; it simply doesn’t make any sense to me,” Claassen told The Citizen.

“If one thinks that New Zealand and Australia have been playing their domestic rugby for the last two months and our rugby hasn’t even restarted yet, we would definitely be underprepared.”

Not all Springbok fans were opposed to playing despite the dangers posed, with Twitter polls suggesting that there is plenty of appetite to see the Springboks play this year in any state to ensure that some test rugby is played before the Lions tour.

It still remains to be seen whether Argentina and South Africa are able to turn up to compete in the Rugby Championship, while reports suggest some top All Blacks could opt out of the tournament leaving New Zealand understrength also.

With potentially up to eight weeks away from families, NZR said it would support those players who decide to stay at home.

“This challenge of what they are about to undertake is going to be significant and we will back them and their families in whatever way we need to ensure they are looked after,” NZR’s Chief Executive Mark Robinson said.

With domestic rugby under the belt, New Zealand and Australia would still be in a stronger position to field a team despite missing top stars while the Springboks and Pumas have the odds stacked against them.

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