Matfield back in Bok squad

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iol spt aug26 Matfield Gallo Images Experienced lock Victor Matfield has overcome injury and been included in South Africa's squad to tour Australia and New Zealand. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Cape Town - Experienced lock Victor Matfield has overcome injury and been included in South Africa's squad to tour Australia and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship next month, but question marks remain over the fitness of loose-forward Willem Alberts.

Matfield and Alberts were part of the initial 30-man squad for the tournament, but missed out on the victories over Argentina in Pretoria and Salta because of injury.

They have both been recalled, although the return of Alberts is subject to a fitness test on Thursday.

“It will be good to have them back. Willem has been part of the squad for the last number of seasons and Victor showed he can still add a lot of value when he returned to the Bok fold earlier this year,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said in a statement on Monday.

Should Alberts be ruled out, Juan Smith will retain his spot in the touring group. Matfield takes the place of Warren Whiteley.

One other change sees prop Marcel van der Merwe called up for the injured Frans Malherbe, who will have surgery on his fractured ankle and is likely to miss the remainder of the season.

“It's also a big disappointment for Frans, whose involvement with the squad was cut short because of injury last November as well, but Marcel has been with us before and will slot in seamlessly,” Meyer added.

“He provides specialist tighthead cover as Tendai Mtawarira, Gurthro Steenkamp and Trevor Nyakane are specialist looseheads.”

South Africa play Australia in Perth on Sept. 6 and New Zealand a week later in Wellington. They currently lead the Rugby Championship table after two rounds following a pair of unconvincing wins over Argentina.

South Africa squad:

Forwards: Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Brits, Marcell Coetzee, Lodewyk de Jager, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Teboho Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Adriaan Strauss, Marcel van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen

Backs: Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Jan Serfontein, Morne Steyn – Reuters


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