Jacques Nienaber announces Springbok squad with a number of surprises
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has announced a squad of 43 players for the season that features the Incoming Series against Wales next month and the Rugby Championship and year-end tour later in the year.
In the squad, which has a number of surprises, Nienaber included eight uncapped players who were rewarded for performances but there is no place for veterans Duane Vermeulen and Frans Steyn.
A notable inclusion is that of Marcel Coetzee who has led the Bulls to a United Rugby Championship (URC) final against the Stormers in Cape Town next weekend.
The uncapped players are No 8 Evan Roos (Stormers), flank Elrigh Louw (Bulls), locks Ruan Nortje (Bulls) and Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), utility forward Deon Fourie (Stormers), fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls), scrumhalf Grant Williams and prop Ntuthuko Mchunu (both Sharks).
A squad of 17 players gathered in Pretoria for the opening week of the team’s preparation camp last week, featuring a number of Sharks and Japanese-based players.
With the Bulls and Stormers advancing to the final of the United Rugby Championship (URC) next week, Nienaber called up Roos, Fourie, Warrick Gelant (fullback) who makes a return to the national set-up for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Moerat and Marvin Orie (both locks), Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe (both props), Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and Damian Willemse (utility back) from the Cape-based franchise, while Coetzee, Louw, Nortje and Arendse join from the Bulls.
Nienaber’s squad also includes a group of older hands in Eben Etzebeth (Sharks), Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Rynhardt Elstadt (Tououse), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat), Damian de Allende (Munster), André Esterhuizen, Jesse Kriel), Vincent Kock (Sarancens), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux), Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Handré Pollard (Montpellier), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Malcolm Marx (Kebota Spears) and Jasper Wiese (Leicester).
Johan Goosen, who joined Cobus Reinach in the opening week, will also remain with the squad until the conclusion of the camp to continue his rehabilitation, with Reinach set to remain with the group.
“Building squad depth is one of the key areas for us, and it is great to see the number of young players who have put up their hands this season and we are delighted to invite them to the national squad environment,” said Nienaber.
“It is also good to welcome back some of the experienced players who have been part of our structures for a few years now and I’m confident they will slot back into the set-up with ease.
“We obviously have to wait a little longer for some players to be released from their club commitments, but we are pleased to be able to announce the squad with exactly three weeks to go before our opening Test against Wales.”
Nienaber added: “We now have a bigger training squad, which will allow us to do a lot more at our training sessions, but most importantly it will give us more time to work with these players as we prepare for a challenging international season.”
Looking forward to the second week of the team’s preparation camp, Nienaber said: “The players laid a solid foundation for us to build from last week, and we are looking forward to taking things up a notch next week.
“Every training session and gym session will count as we look to get our structures well in place for the season ahead and to meet the standards we have set for ourselves by the time the Castle Lager Incoming Series kicks off.”
The Boks start the season with three Tests against Wales in the Incoming Series on July 2, 9 and 16 before getting into the Rugby Championship where they will line up against the All Blacks in back-to-back home Tests.
The All Blacks Tests will be followed by a tour to Australia and Argentina and they will then return home for their final Test against the Pumas in Durban in September.
Springbok squad for International season:
Props: Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Cell C Sharks), Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92)
Hookers: Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks)
Locks: Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks), Salmaan Moerat (DHL Stormers), Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Bulls), Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers)
Loose forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Marcell Coetzee (Vodacom Bulls), Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks), Elrigh Louw (Vodacom Bulls), Evan Roos (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers)
Utility forwards: Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse), Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)
Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks), Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks)
Flyhalves: Johan Goosen (Vodacom Bulls), Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Handré Pollard (Montpellier Herrault)
Midfielders: Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), Damian de Allende (Munster), André Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Jesse Kriel (Cannon Eagles)
Outside Backs: Aphelele Fassi (Cell C Sharks), Warrick Gelant (DHL Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks)
Utility Backs: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers)
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