Erasmus names strong squad for incoming series against Ireland

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus during the Test match against Wales at Twickenham Stadium in London on Saturday.
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus during the Test match against Wales at Twickenham Stadium in London on Saturday.
Image: David Rogers/Getty Images

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus named a strong squad of 39 players and an additional 14 on a standby list for the two-Test incoming series against Ireland on Tuesday.

The Tests are at Loftus Versfeld on July 6 and Kings Park on July 13, followed by a one-off Test against Portugal at Free State Stadium on July 20.

Nine players who were not available for selection for the Boks' 41-13 win against Wales in Saturday's one-off Test at Twickenham in London have been included. Two uncapped players have also been named — Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar and front rower Jan-Hendrik Wessels.

Wing Cheslin Kolbe and centre Lukhanyo Am, who joined the Springbok squad at different stages of their training camp this month in Pretoria to do their rehabilitation under the supervision of the medical staff, are back from injury.

Flyhalf Handrè Pollard and loose forward Jasper Wiese, who trained with the team but were ineligible for selection due to the Wales Test falling outside the international window, have also been named in the squad. Wiese will only be available for selection once he completes his suspension for a dangerous tackle.

Erasmus also called up 2019 and 2023 World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi and lock RG Snyman, who joined the squad in London after their club commitments.

Other World Cup winners included are Marco van Staden (flanker), Kurt-Lee Arendse (utility back) and Willie le Roux (fullback), who wrapped up their United Rugby Championship season in the Bulls' grand final defeat against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday night.

Three players who made their Test debuts against Wales — Edwill van der Merwe (wing), Ben-Jason Dixon (utility forward) and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (utility back) — were included in the group.

The squad features 22 forwards and 17 backline players, with Erasmus set to name the captain closer to the first Ireland Test.

The coach said three players, Faf de Klerk (quadriceps), Van der Merwe (shoulder) and Makazole Mapimpi (hamstring), picked up niggles in the Wales Test but he was satisfied there was enough cover in the squad with Arendse, Kolbe and Am available for selection.

 The coach’s standby list includes six capped Springboks — Jean-Luc du Preez (loose forward), Joseph Dweba (hooker), Jordan Hendrikse (flyhalf), Elrigh Louw (No 8), Wilco Louw, Nuthuko Mchunu (both props). Six of the players — Neethling Fouche (prop), Mchunu, Andre-Hugo Venter (hooker), Hendrikse, Ethan Hooker (utility back) and Quan Horn (fullback) were members of the Bok travelling squad to London.

These players will train with the team at stages during the next month before the team’s historic Test against Portugal and could be called up at short notice in the event of injuries during the Ireland Tests.

Eight players were ruled out due to injury — Steven Kitshoff (prop), Jean Kleyn, Lood de Jager (both locks), Cameron Hanekom (flanker), Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf), Henco van Wyk (centre), Canan Moodie and Damian Willemse (both utility backs). 

“We named the best squad available for the incoming series and with squad depth being one of our key pillars as we build towards to the 2027 Rugby World Cup and the Test against Portugal, we thought it would be beneficial to name a standby squad with a few players who will join us at training sporadically in the next few weeks,” Erasmus said.

“A handful of players are carrying injuries and were ruled out of the selection mix, but our plan to build depth in the past few years and expose players to Test rugby in the build-up to the 2023 World Cup and against Wales last weekend paid off.”

Erasmus said the standby squad could come into the selection mix for the Test against Portugal, particularly as they continue to expose young players to international rugby.

The 39-man squad gathered in Pretoria on Tuesday and will continue with their training schedule despite arriving in South Africa a day later than expected after their flight from London to South Africa was cancelled on Sunday night. They will return home for the weekend to spend time with their families and resume their Test week training schedule on Monday for the clash against Ireland at Loftus Versfeld.

Springbok squad for incoming series

Forwards: Phepsi Buthelezi (Sharks), Ben-Jason Dixon (Stormers), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Thomas du Toit (Bath), Eben Etzebeth (Sharks). Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls), Vincent Koch (Sharks), Siya Kolisi (Racing 92), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat), Ox Nche (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92/Sharks), Evan Roos (Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Blu Revs), RG Snyman (Munster/Leinster), Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls), Marco van Staden (Bulls), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Bulls), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers).

Backs: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls), Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), André Esterhuizen (Harlequins/Sharks), Aphelele Fassi (Sharks), Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), Wilie le Roux (Bulls), Manie Libbok (Stormers), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Handré Pollard (Leicester Tigers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Morne van den Berg (Lions), Edwill van der Merwe (Lions), Grant Williams (Sharks).

Players on standby:

Forwards: Jean-Luc du Preez (Sale Sharks), Joseph Dweba, Neethling Fouche (both Stormers), Celimpilo Gumede, Elrigh Louw, Wilco Louw (all Bulls), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Sharks), Ruben van Heerden (Stormers), Andre-Hugo Venter (Stormers). 

Backs: Suleiman Hartzenberg (Stormers), Jordan Hendrikse (Lions), Ethan Hooker (Sharks), Quan Horn (Lions), Siya Masuku (Sharks).


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.