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Springbok coach Nienaber recalls veterans Vermeulen and Steyn for the Rugby Championship

Duane Vermeulen has been recalled to the Springboks.
Duane Vermeulen has been recalled to the Springboks.
Image: Mark Lewis/Huw Evans/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has recalled vastly experienced campaigners Duane Vermeulen and Frans Steyn for the home leg of the Rugby Championship.

Nienaber included Vermeulen and Steyn, who have a total of 134 Test caps between them, as he opted for an expanded group of 41 players for the opening stage of the tournament.

Vermeulen and Steyn missed the recent 2-1 series win over Wales due to respective knee and hamstring injuries and the Boks' medical staff will monitor their progress over the coming weeks.

In other team news, Aphelele Fassi of the Sharks and Marcell Coetzee of the Bulls have been released to their franchises because there is enough cover at the back and at loose forward in the squad.

Winger Cheslin Kolbe, who broke his jaw in the final Test against Wales in Cape Town, has also been omitted from the squad as he is only set to be available for selection in September.

Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, who did his rehabilitation with the national squad after a dislocated shoulder, requires medical clearance from his club Montpellier before he can be considered for selection.

The Springboks will play back-to-back Tests against the All Blacks in Nelspruit on August 6 and in Johannesburg a week later on August 13.

This will be followed by a trip to Australia, where they will play Tests at the Adelaide Oval (August 27) and Allianz Stadium in Sydney (September 3), before travelling to Argentina where they will meet the Pumas at Estadio José Amalfitani in Buenos Aires on September 17.

The team will then return to SA to wrap up their campaign in Durban against the Pumas on September 24.

“We are pleased with the enthusiasm and attitude the new players showed in the squad during the Castle Lager Incoming Series, and we feel that this group worked well together throughout the campaign and that we have good cover in all positions, so we opted to keep the majority of the group together for the home leg of Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign,” said Nienaber.

“We will reassess the size of the squad for our tour to Australia and Argentina in the next few weeks.

“Duane and Frans are both very experienced players and they each have valuable traits that they bring to the field of play, so we are excited to welcome them into the fold. This will offer the coaches and medical staff a good opportunity to determine where they are in terms of their rugby.”

Nienaber added: “It is disappointing for Aphelele and Marcell, but we were limited in how many players we could select. That said, we know what both of them can do on the field and we have a big picture in mind with the Rugby World Cup next year.

“We will continue to keep a close eye on them at their provinces as well as all the other players on our radar that were not selected in this group.”

Nienaber looked forward to the next chapter of their season and said: “New Zealand, Australia and Argentina will pose different challenges to Wales, and we realise the importance of hitting the ground running in the first two Tests.

“We will enter the competition with a series win against Wales, which will give us a little confidence, especially after the way we played in the deciding Test against Wales, but back-to-back matches against the All Blacks is a completely different challenge, and we know that they will come here wanting to make amends for losing their last two matches against Ireland.

“The way we perform in those Tests will set the tone for the rest of the competition, which will be equally tough with three matches on tour before playing our final fixture in Durban. But we plan to approach this series one match at a time and to work as hard as possible to get the desired results and to continue to build and gel even stronger as a squad.”

Springbok Squad:

Props: Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), Vincent Koch (Wasps), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Cell C Sharks), Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92)

 Hookers: Joseph Dweba (DHL Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks)

Locks: Lood de Jager (Wild Knights), 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), Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks),

Elrigh Louw (Vodacom Bulls), Evan Roos (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers), Duane Vermeulen (Ulster)

 Utility forwards: Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse), Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)

Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks), Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks),

Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Handré Pollard (Leicester Tigers),

Midfielders: Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), André Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Jesse Kriel (Cannon Eagles)

Outside Backs: Warrick Gelant (Racing 92), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks)

Utility Backs: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs), Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers)


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