CAPE TOWN – Sharks star Curwin Bosch, Sharks No 8 Dan du Preez and Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant will inject some new blood into the Springbok squad for their Rugby Championship campaign that kicks off on August 19 against Argentina.
The Bok squad will assemble in Port Elizabeth on August 8 to start their preparations for their Championship-opening Test at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The uncapped trio, along with prop Trevor Nyakane, loose forward Uzair Cassiem and flyhalf Handré Pollard, are the only players in the Bok squad who were not part of the Springboks series whitewash over the French in June.
The team which was announced after yesterday’s Super Rugby final also features uncapped Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka.
Captain Warren Whiteley will not be in the Bok set-up in the near future as he was withdrawn due to a groin injury that could keep him on the sidelines for at least six weeks, while Pollard’s inclusion will serve as assessment of his return-to-play protocol to monitor his rehabilitation and conditioning.
Experienced prop Tendai Mtawarira, who is recovering from a neck injury, will also be monitored, and a call on his availability for the first Test will be made within the next two weeks.
Lions back Ruan Combrinck can consider himself unlucky to not make the Springbok cut, while Frans Steyn was not considered for selection as the Bok management team felt that it was in his best interest to have a good pre-season following a long layoff since June and a taxing season in Europe.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said he is pleased with the largely unchanged squad from the one that did duty in June, and said the similar team make-up allows for greater continuity and consistency.
“Our players must be well-conditioned, match-fit and also be able to make good on-field decisions. We are also looking for continuity, experience and combinations – all elements which I believe are reflected in the current squad selection,” said Coetzee.
“All of the Springboks who were in action in the June Tests and the latter part of the Super Rugby campaign played very well, and I have no doubt they will bring that form with them when we assemble,” explained Coetzee.
Coetzee also said that the Rugby Championship door was not closed for those who didn’t make the squad.
“Some players have initially missed out on selection due to various reasons, but this squad is not cast in stone, and changes can be made as we progress through the tournament,” Coetzee said.
The Bok coach also said that he knows the Rugby Championship will test them in a different way, and added that the absence of Whiteley is a big blow for the team.
“The next six contests will be completely different to what we faced against France in June,” said the Bok coach.
“We will have to work even harder to meet these tough challenges against the Pumas, Wallabies and All Blacks.
"Thorough preparation is once again crucial to our campaign, and I am therefore pleased that we could manage to work with some of the players in Stellenbosch last week, as those players would have been out of action for almost a month by the time we assemble in Port Elizabeth.”
“Warren’s absence is a massive blow for the Springboks and for him personally.
"I really feel for him, but I am sure he will get back stronger. It gives an opportunity for another player now, and I am sure there will be very strong competition for the No 8 jersey.”
Uzair Cassiem, Lood de Jager, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Lizo Gqoboka, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Oupa Mohoje, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle.
Curwin Bosch, Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronje, Damian de Allende, Warrick Gelant, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Rudy Paige, Handré Pollard, Raymond Rhule, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan, Francois Venter.