World Cup-winning flank Juan Smith may make a surprise return to the playing field against the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth next week.
Smith, who has been sidelined with a torn Achilles injury since February, hinted on Saturday that he could play "20 minutes next week" - coming off the bench in the last Bok fixture ahead of the World Cup.
Earlier in the week Springbok coach Peter de Villiers suggested that Smit's only chance of game time before the World Cup might be in the Currie Cup competition for the Cheetahs.
However, Smit - speaking during the pre-match build-up to Saturday's Tri-Nations showdown between South Africa and Australia in Durban - suggested he might get some game time next week.
That is in stark contrast to the Bok mentor's view, who this week suggested at a media briefing that the big Free State flank would now not play any role in the Tri-Nations.
"Juan is still struggling a little," De Villiers told a media gathering, adding: "We hope to maybe see him play some games for the Cheetahs before we go [to the World Cup] - that will be his only chance."
The Bok mentor said another injured Bok loose forward, Schalk Burger (fractured thumb) will also not play for the Boks before they head to New Zealand for the World Cup.
"Schalk will only be ready for our first game in the World Cup, but he is working very very hard," De Villiers said.
"I have never seen Schalk work as hard as he is at the moment - he is looking very good.
"He is the type of player that doesn't need a lot of game time to get back into form."
Brighter news was that De Villiers said Alberts, the big Sharks ball-carrier, would be ready for consideration next week.
“He would probably have been ready to go this week, but as we did with Heinrich [Brüssow] we want to first be confident that he can last for seven, eight games going to a World Cup.
“I'm more at ease [on the broad Bok loose forward situation]."
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