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World Cup door was never closed for Spies, says Jake

Published : 20070809

DURBAN: Tomorrow afternoon Pierre Spies will learn if he has indeed been given a World Cup reprieve. The No 8 will see an internationally renowned specialist in Cape Town for a third - and casting - opinion on the mystery ailment that caused him to leave the Bok camp in Durban a week ago under a cloud of doom and gloom, only for a specialist in Pretoria to claim that the 22-year-old is not so grieviously ill after all and can, in fact, resume playing rugby.

The initial finding was that Spies had blood clots on his lungs and could not play rugby for six to eight months.

If Spies is given the go-ahead, he will immediately rejoin the squad and, when the squad leaves for France on September 3, Bismarck du Plessis will drop out and once more take his place on the official reserve list.

"It is very good news," Jake White said of the surprise development regarding his first choice No 8.

"It is not so much a case that the door is now open for Pierre, it was never closed. He was never dropped from the squad, it was more a case of him being deemed medically unfit and when he left Durban we said that we would 'see what happens' if he regained his health. And if he has, the decision is that we will revert to the original 30-man squad we named."

White said that he was at liberty to make changes to his squad until the IRB's cut-off date of August 14.

"We have to submit our squad list on that date, so we need to have that decision on Pierre this weekend," the coach said.

"If he is back on board, it will be very hard on Bismarck but I hope everybody understands that there was never any intention of putting him on a rollercoaster ride. And Bismarck will remain involved. He wil tour with us to Ireland and Scotland regardless of what happens with Pierre."

People should not see this as chopping and changing. Other countries, such as England, have not named their squads because they are waiting waiting to see what happens with injured players. We were early with our annoucement because we wanted to get cracking with training but that does not mean we shouldn't be able to make changes before the cut-off date."

White likewise said that Jacques Cronje would be involved with the warm-up matches (he will play No 8 against Namibia because the coach does not want to risk Bob Skinstad's newly recovered ribs or Danie Rossouw's suspect hamstring) but that does not mean he will go to the World Cup.

"Even though we announced our squad, we can use whoever we like in the warm-up Tests - it is the squad list we submit next week that counts," White said. "And the vital thing about that list is that each player on it must be fully fit. If you take an injured player to France, and then he breaks down, you can't replace him. The IRB send inspectors to your training sessions in the first week and make a note of any player not training. Only players who were fit when you first arrive can be replaced if they get injured."

The Boks concluded their 10-day training camp in Durban with a training session yesterday morning before disbanding for the rest of the week . They reconvene in Cape Town on Sunday ahead of Wednesday's Namibia Test.

"It has been a very successful camp," said White. "There has been a massive improvement in terms of where we were when we got to Durban and where we are now. We wanted to achieve a number of things before the warm-up Tests and we have succeeded. Our fitness levels are much higher and we have added some new techncial things to our games but will only see how effective they are when we play Namibia. I am very happy. We are exactly where we want to be. Seven days ago I had no technical advisor. Now I have one of the best in the world, and to cap the good news, there is the possible recovery of Pierre Spies."


Source: The Independent

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