Springbok coach Peter de Villiers suggested he will have to field the "best available" team for the home leg of the Tri-Nations, but stopped short of saying he will call up all of his veterans.
Despite persistent media reports that the 20-odd players who did not travel for the Australasian leg - where the Boks lost 20-39 (to the Wallabies) and 7-40 (to the All Blacks) - were indeed training at a secret World Cup camp near Rustenburg, De Villiers maintained that all those players were 'injured'.
However, De Villiers said he was unsure how many of them would be available for South Africa's remaining Tri-Nations games - against Australia in Durban on August 13 and the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth a week later.
The players will undergo medical tests next week, but even if most are given the all-clear De Villiers expressed reservations about making too many changes, saying it may not be in the best interests of the side.
The Bok coach told a media gathering, before his team returned home on Sunday, that he believed his side performed better against the All Blacks than Australia.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed," he told reporters.
"A Test match to me is the ultimate, you do have the opportunity to come out there and represent your country.
"There was a few positives, especially if you look at what you do have as experience.
"I think there's a few guys who did put up their hands up and there's a few who didn't - so for me and for South Africa, I think there's a lot of clarity."
One of the players who the Bok coach felt had "put his hand up" was young Patrick Lambie, who played at flyhalf after originally being named to make his first Test start at fullback.
"I don't think Pat went too bad, I think he brought a different dimension to the game and I'm more clear on who the No.10 should be," said De Villiers.
The question is now: How many of the frontline players will be called up?
"That's the biggest challenge going back on Monday, to get them all in and do those medicals again to see if they are ready," said De Villiers.
"I just hope some of them will be ready to go."
However, the Bok coach had his reservations about changing the entire team.
"If we make too many changes for Port Elizabeth and Durban, we might struggle the same way, so we're in a catch 22 more than we thought we would be," De Villiers said.
De Villiers, who will announce his squad for the home leg this coming week, said the Tests in Durban and Port Elizabeth is vital, because the Boks need to get "momentum" ahead of the World Cup in New Zealand in about a month's time.
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