Roberts: Injuries mostly freak accidents

The Bok team doctor says many of the injuries sustained during Super Rugby were unavoidable.

Several high-profile South African players have suffered injuries during the competition. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Springbok Doctor Craig Roberts on Monday told EWN Sport there was little medical staff could do to prevent the high number of South African injuries suffered in Super Rugby this season.

Local franchises have been left reeling after the likes of Franco van der Merwe, Gio Aplon, Frik Kirsten, Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Schalk Burger, Pierre Spies and Eben Etzebeth were all been ruled out through injuries.

Roberts says most of the injuries were freak accidents.

"A lot of them have happened in non-contact situations. Aplon's was a non-contact injury and Pieter-Steph du Toit's [anterior cruciate ligament] ACL injury happened completely off the ball. It wasn't related to any contact, as he just did a side step and his knee gave in.

"Rugby is a collision sport and there's a lot of contact in there. Some of the injuries have been a result of contact, but a lot of them have happened away from contact in open play."

Roberts explains why he believes the Australian franchises have fared better than the rest on the injury front.

"Australian teams seem to have come off the best. I think the injury lists of the South African and New Zealand teams are pretty similar. The Australians don't play Currie Cup at the end of the year and they get a decent pre-season preparation in the build-up to Super Rugby."

Roberts adds while injuries are never a good thing, they can force players to take some much needed time off.

"If you look at the positive side, it does give the players a little bit of a break. You never want someone to get injured, but if a player does get injured it gives him maybe six to eight weeks to focus on areas of his game that he needs to work on. Often, they don't get that chance when they're playing week in, week out. So in a way, it can be a blessing."

According to Roberts, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) runs a comprehensive injury prevention programme to try stop injuries before they happen.

"We do a lot of testing at all the franchises in the pre-season and we try to predict injuries. We look at weaknesses and determine the areas a player might need to work on to try to prevent injuries.

"We do that at the beginning of each year and then work with the franchises to put programmes together for the players."