Matt Proudfoot during the South African national men's rugby team media conference at Pivot Conference Centre, Montecasino on July 15 2019. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ LEE WARREN
Matt Proudfoot during the South African national men's rugby team media conference at Pivot Conference Centre, Montecasino on July 15 2019. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ LEE WARREN

Does SA rugby have a doping problem?

That weighty question‚ or verbal hand grenade, was lobbed at Springbok forwards coach Matt Proudfoot on Tuesday and it put the former prop on the back foot.

“I’m a forwards coach. That is something for administrators to answer. I don’t have the information to answer that question‚” Proudfoot said.

Wing Aphiwe Dyantyi was the most recent Bok to fall foul of doping regulations. In August he tested positive for a cocktail of banned substances and Proudfoot’s questioner was trying to point to a pattern.

He was asked whether SA rugby’s image had been tarnished.

“I think the image of SA rugby is about what you see on the field,” he said. “We are a competitive nation. The players are tested weekly. Six to eight players are tested weekly. Even from the time we had our camps.

“The testing must be working. That is what world sport has attained. Look at athletics.”

The assistant coach was far more assertive when asked about the effect the loss of star lock Brodie Retallick is likely to have on the All Blacks. He fired back at his questioner.

“Are you sure he is not playing?” he asked. “Mr [Steve] Hansen said he has a full squad to pick from in his last media conference and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a little trick up their sleeve.

“If he plays‚ he’s a massive player for them. If he doesn’t‚ they’ve got two very good replacements in [Scott] Barrett and [Patrick] Tuipulotu.”

Retallick’s Rugby World Cup selection raised eyebrows as Hansen conceded his tough-as-teak second-rower would only return to fitness by the quarterfinal stage of the tournament.

Proudfoot‚ however‚ smells a rat. Whether Retallick plays or not the match is likely to be determined by small margins. That means the loser should not be discounted from bouncing back later in the tournament.

“Our mindset in 2019 is to generate a lot of momentum‚” said Proudfoot about the undefeated Boks in 2019.

“We’ve got some momentum and we want to keep that going. It would not be ideal to start the competition on the back foot and I think both teams understand that‚” said Proudfoot.

“It will be another close game between the rivals. It has been like that repetitively over the past 18 months.

“The game will be won or lost on small executions. I don’t think that will derail the team’s plans.”

Some weather predictions have rain in their forecast for Saturday and the burly forwards coach did not appear too bothered by it.

“We have been here for a while and have trained in different weather. Whether that be hot and dry‚ as well as humid‚ or in rain. A full spectrum. Our plans won’t change.

“Our plans stay in place. If it rains during the game we will change. That’s why we played the warm-up game against Japan.”