South Africa’s top rugby players have undergone a series of rigorous tests to prepare them for the demands of the upcoming international season.
The tests are done twice yearly and were conducted under the auspices of the Springbok conditioning team.
Twenty-four players took part in the assessments with Springbok captain John Smit, props CJ van der Linde and Gurthro Steenkamp, backs Ashwin Willemse, Jaque Fourie, Ricky Januarie and Marius Joubert, and loose forward Joe van Niekerk the only absentees.
All the players who missed the tests will have to undergo them before returning to action for their Super 14 sides.
"We wanted to assess the players after they have had a really tough 2005 season. These results will provide us with a firm basis for our overall conditioning plan for the 2006 season," Springbok coach Jake White told www.sarugby.net.
"The forthcoming international season will be even more demanding than previous years. Our players will participate in the expanded Super 14 competition, and the Tri-Nations will boast a bigger format.
"It is therefore vital that we start real early with our preparations and especially our conditioning programme.
"More importantly these assessments will form an integral part of our strategic preparations, conditioning plan and objective for the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France."
Two more assessments are planned for 2006 – in May before the start of the Tri-Nations and in September before the end-of-year tour.