Up to four new players in the Springbok team are in line to make their debuts in Europe next month when Allister Coetzee’s team take on England, Italy and Wales.
New Currie Cup champions, the Free State Cheetahs were rewarded for their strong showing in the competition with wing Sergeal Petersen and centre Francois Venter picked in the Test squad, while Bulls star flank Roelof Smit and Sharks loose-forward Jean-Luc du Preez have also been given a chance to make it at Test level.
There’s also a recall to the Test squad for tighthead specialist Jannie du Plessis, who comes in following injuries to Frans Malherbe and Julian Redelinghuys, and wing JP Pietersen, while Piet van Zyl is also in line to play Test rugby again.
Lions star wing Ruan Combrinck is also back in the selection mix after breaking his leg in the match against Argentina in Salta at the beginning of the Rugby Championship.
Players out of the mix who featured in the Tests against Australia and New Zealand recently include Francois Hougaard, Francois Louw and Juan de Jongh, who’re all on the injured list. Also not available is No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who after holding discussions with Coetzee decided he is not in the physical shape to play Test rugby following his long injury layoff.
Also still unavailable are Siya Kolisi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Scarra Ntubeni and Lwazi Mvov, while long-time stalwarts like Handre Pollard, Jan Serfontein, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee, Coenie Oosthuizen and Bismarck du Plessis are also on the injured list.
A number of uncapped players meanwhile have been included in the group for the Barbarians game on November 5, which falls outside the Test window, meaning the Boks’ overseas-based players are not available for the match.
The 12 players who’ve been rewarded for their outstanding form and who’ll get a taste of Test rugby are Lizo Gqoboka, Thomas du Toit, RG Snyman, Roelof Smit, Jean-luc du Preez, Uzair Cassiem, Francois Venter, Tian Schoeman, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Sergeal Petersen, Jamba Ulengo and Cheslin Kolbe.
Bok boss Coetzee said it was great to have such a big group of young and exciting players for the first match of the tour.
“I view this as a great opportunity to start building for the future. The selection of many of these players is part of our road map for 2019,” said Coetzee. “They are identified as part of our succession planning going forward. Their selection in the Springbok squad is reward for their consistently good performances this year, at both Super Rugby and Currie Cup level.
“The match against the Barbarians is a great occasion for them to show that they belong at this level. It is an opportunity to show their class on the highest level and to gain experience of international rugby.”
“My message to them would be to make it impossible for me to ignore them for future selections and to embrace this well-deserved opportunity.”
The Springbok coach added: “Francois, Jean-Luc, Sergeal and Roelof will stay behind as part of the Springbok squad for the Tests against England, Italy and Wales. It will be good for them to experience the ethos of the Springboks while on tour and with strong performances, I am sure that they will be involved on a regular basis with the Springboks in the future.”
Nov 5: Barbarians (Wembley)
Nov 12: England (Twickenham)
Nov 19: Italy (??)
Nov 26: Wales (Principality Stadium)
Squad for Baabaas
Backs: Cheslin Kolbe, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Sergeal Petersen, Ruan Combrinck, Francois Venter, Damian de Allende, Tian Schoeman, Pat Lambie, Rudy Paige, Faf de Klerk, Piet van Zyl
Forwards: Nizaam Carr, Roelof Smit, Uzair Cassiem, Jean-Luc du Preez, Oupa Mohoje, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Trevor Nyakane, Thomas du Toit, Lizo Gqoboka, Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi
Squad for Tests
Backs: Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Ruan Combrinck, Sergeal Petersen, Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel, Lionel Mapoe, Francois Venter, Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen, Damian de Allende, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Rudy Paige, Piet van Zyl
Forwards: Warren Whiteley, Teboho Mohoje, Roelof Smit, Willem Alberts, Jaco Kriel, Jean-Luc du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert, Vincent Koch, Steven Kitshoff, Jannie du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Bongi Mbonambi, Malcolm Marx