Bok coach Nienaber: Goosen could be Test ready by year-end tour
Johan Goosen's international career that stalled in 2016 could be revived on the Springboks' end-of-year tour.
Goosen, who played the last of his 13 Tests in 2016 when the Springboks went down to Wales in the Principality Stadium, injured his anterior cruciate ligament last October. His inclusion in the Springboks' alignment camp in Pretoria has given rise to speculation about his return to the international arena.
“He is somebody we are looking at as cover for flyhalf,” Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said on Monday.
He was quick to remind that Goosen is a player who has not operated in the current Bok setup.
“Seeing our camp is in Pretoria, we thought it a great opportunity that we get him in and align him with us. He can see how we operate.”
Goosen starred for the Bulls in last season's Currie Cup but has missed most of this season. Nienaber said the player will remain with the Bulls to finish his rehab when the Boks go into their Test season.
“He will probably start the URC [United Rugby Championship] next season for the Bulls. It is supposed to start at the end of the Rugby Championship.
“If he is declared medically fit, if everything goes well and his performances are good he can join us on the end of year tour,” the coach said.
Another player who can provide cover at flyhalf and inside centre, Frans Steyn, is also on the mend. Steyn has a hamstring injury but he is very much in the Bok plans, albeit for now on the periphery.
Steyn, as was the case in the build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, was set straight about how he fits into the greater scheme of things.
“We had a good conversation with Frans,” said Nienaber. “He is a player we will probably pull into the squad during this year. We had an open conversation with him, saying, 'Do your rehab, make sure you are 100% right and in good physical conditioning. If we pick up an injury, we will pull you into the squad ASAP.'
“We told him not to be hasty with his injury. He knows what the plan is going forward with him. The moment he is ready to go and there is an opportunity for us to pull him in, we will.”
While Goosen and Steyn, when fit, would struggle to break into the Bok starting team, Duane Vermeulen has very much been the go-to No 8. Vermeulen, however, picked up a knee injury while on duty for Ulster for which he will require a medical procedure.
“Duane will do his procedure this week. He's got clearance from his club to do his rehabilitation in SA. He will go through his rehab and once cleared by his club we can pull him into our squad.”
Nienaber said scrumhalf Cobus Reinach is in the same boat. He will have to return to Montpellier once he completes his rehabilitation and will only be available for Bok selection once cleared by the club.
The Boks begin their into a three-Test series against Wales next month.
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