Springbok head coach Peter de Villiers has again denied rumours that South Africa’s extensive injury list is full of fakes.
The Boks are currently without 21 regular squad members for the away leg of the Tri Nations, which began with a convincing defeat to Australia in Sydney and concludes with Saturday’s clash against New Zealand in Wellington.
The International Rugby Board ratified the Boks’ original squad selection after queries from the Australian Rugby Union but speculation that the ‘so-called’ injuries are being used as a smokescreen to rest star names ahead of the World Cup continues to surround the South African camp.
"So-called is not the right word to use – they're injured,'' said de Villiers, who has vociferously denied newspaper suggestions that the injured players are actually taking part in organised training sessions with Springbok technical adviser Rassie Erasmus in Rustenburg.
"We know that the long Super 15 season is the cause of this and we just have to abide by that. They're not training. It (the report) doesn't surprise me because there's always mischief everywhere."
De Villiers has come in for extensive criticism for his squad selection, both outside and inside South Africa.
While the Wallabies saw their contest with a Bok B team as a slur on the integrity of the Tri Nations, South African fans and former players have questioned the logic behind ignoring the chance to bring the nation’s best players together prior to the World Cup opener with Wales on September 11.
De Villiers was bombarded with questions at a mid-week press conference as reporters claimed the cream of the country’s talent was needlessly back at home and that the current squad was devoid of real Test-match experience.
But the man wholed the Boks to a series victory over the Lions two summers ago insisted he is picking the very best players available to him as he dismissed media questions in his own unique style.
"What do you mean by best players? The guys here at the moment, they performed in South Africa, in Super 15," added de Villiers.
"There's a few guys who didn't make it that were also the best in Super 15. So best is a relative thing.
"Experience? Then I'll play (1980s Bok hero) Naas Botha too because he's helluva experienced.
"The guys that have actually performed, we've just rewarded them for their contributions to the game. I don't think there's anything wrong with it."