Etzebeth doubtful for Incoming Series

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will require further rehabilitation before making his return.

Young Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth during a training session in Cape Town on 13 August 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will need three more weeks of rehabilitation before he can be considered for selection to make his comeback.

Etzebeth was one of 10 players who took no or little part in the training sessions at the Springbok training camp in Durban, which concluded today.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says the loss of Etzebeth would be a major blow for his side.

"Eben's situation is a major setback as he's been one of our best players in the last two seasons. We're continually monitoring his injury, because he really wants to play for the Springboks next month. However, he is still young and has a highly promising career ahead and his welfare is the most important to us."

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts says the Bok management will work closely with Western Province to get Etzebeth back on the field as soon as possible.

"We evaluated Eben's injury at the camp and he did not take part in any of the field sessions, as we are managing the process of his return to the field. We've been in discussion with his franchise, his rehab specialist and the foot specialist who operated on him last year. We're happy with his progress and will work closely with Western Province to ensure he gets back on the field without any risk of further aggravating the injury."

The other players who missed training sessions at the camp were Frans Malherbe, Schalk Burger, Willem Alberts, S'bura Sithole, Frans Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Johan Goosen, Bismarck du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen.

Meyer says they did not want to risk further injuries for the players carrying slight injuries and niggles into the training camp.

"Player welfare is incredibly important to us. We've been working closely with the franchises and have taken the decision not to take any risks with players carrying injuries at this camp.

"Our medical team worked very hard at the camp, performing medical assessments on all the players and ensuring they get the best possible treatment on behalf of the franchises, as four of them are still playing Super Rugby this weekend.

"A final decision on the involvement of all the injured players will be taken later this week, before we announce the final squad for the Incoming Series on Saturday."

Twelve players who were involved with the Springboks last year are already out of contention for the June series. They are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Scarra Ntubeni, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Frik Kirsten, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco van der Merwe, Arno Botha, Pierre Spies, Louis Schreuder, Pat Lambie, Gio Aplon and Jaque Fourie.