JOHANNESBURG – Having picked 11 Bulls players to attend the first of three “alignment camps” ahead of the Springboks’ international season, new coach Rassie Erasmus has made it clear who from the Pretoria-based franchise he fancies, and who he doesn’t.
The backs he will consider to be part of the June Test series against England are Embrose Papier, Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Travis Ismaiel and Warrick Gelant. The forwards who have got a tick behind their names are Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Lood de Jager and Roelof Smit.
The Bulls players and Bok management meet up from Sunday to Wednesday - while the Bulls enjoy a Super Rugby bye - in Vanderbijlpark to get on the same page ahead of the Test season.
The second camp is scheduled for April 8-11, also in Vanderbijlpark, while Durban will host the third assessment and planning camp from April 22-15.
The focus of the camps will be on aspects such as “on-field alignment”, strength and conditioning, medicals and “rugby fundamentals”. No on-field activities are scheduled at this stage.
“As much as we don’t want to disrupt the weekly preparations of our Super Rugby teams, it is equally important that we continue with preparations of the Springboks in the background,” said Erasmus yesterday.
“The Bulls have a bye on the weekend of April 7 and the Stormers and Lions are not involved the following weekend (April 14) while the Sharks are not in action on April 28, allowing us the opportunity to assemble in three groups.
“We will be starting as a new group and it is therefore very important that the Springbok coaches meet, engage and strategise with as many players as possible we have in mind for the forthcoming Tests against Wales and England.”
The Boks start their season against Wales in Washington on June 2, followed by three Tests against England in Joburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town.
Players invited to first camp are:
Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Trevor Nyakane (prop), RG Snyman (lock), Jason Jenkins (lock), Lood de Jager (lock), Roelof Smit (loose forward).
Embrose Papier (scrumhalf), Handré Pollard (flyhalf), Jesse Kriel (centre), Travis Ismaiel (wing), Warrick Gelant (fullback).