Former Lions and Western Province prop Brian Mujati could find his way into the Springbok team in the coming days.
It is understood the Northampton Saints tighthead, who swapped South Africa for England in 2009, may be called up to join Heyneke Meyer’s squad in Ireland ahead of this weekend’s Test in Dublin.
The Bok squad has 31 members, but provision has been made for 32 players, allowing Meyer to call one more person into the tour squad.
Mujati, who played 12 Tests for the Boks after qualifying for South Africa – he was born in Zimbabwe – has apparently been in scintillating form for the Saints since arriving in England a few years ago.
Should Meyer pick Mujati, the Boks will have six props in their squad, something that will hugely benefit them as the national team will have to name a full front row on the bench for the upcoming three Tests.
With Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira set to start against Ireland, with Adriaan Strauss at hooker, Mujati and Gurthrö Steenkamp, who’s also based overseas and knows the conditions well, and the refereeing interpretations, should be the back-up on the bench. Schalk Brits, who also plays in Europe for Saracens, should be the reserve hooker.
Pat Cilliers and CJ van der Linde are the other front-rankers in the squad, so the Boks are well covered in the front-row department.
The South Africans kick off their preparations in Dublin today, with most of the focus being on the back division. Meyer’s first-choice pack pretty much picks itself, with the only position to be decided being No 5 lock. Andries Bekker’s absence through injury means Juandré Kruger will get another start, but Franco van der Merwe will be hoping to make an impression on Meyer as well.
Flyhalf, centre, wing and fullback are all up for grabs, considering Johan Goosen, Frans Steyn and Bryan Habana are at home in South Africa and not touring. It seems to be a straight shoot-out between Elton Jantjies and Pat Lambie for the No 10 jersey, but Meyer could also go back to his favourite flyhalf, Morné Steyn.
At centre, Juan de Jongh will perhaps be given a run alongside WP and Stormers teammate Jean de Villiers.
The Bok skipper, though, still has to prove his fitness after hurting a hamstring a few weeks ago. Should De Villiers not make it for this weekend’s match, De Jongh may be joined in midfield by Jaco Taute.
The Lions utility back, though, is believed to be Meyer’s preferred option at fullback, meaning Zane Kirchner’s days at 15 could be coming to an end.
And on the wings, JP Pietersen is sure to return to the side after proving his fitness in the last few weeks of the Currie Cup, while at left wing, Francois Hougaard may well keep his place ahead of Lwazi Mvovo. The Boks’ first training session today in Dublin will show just what Meyer is thinking ahead of the Ireland Test.