JOHANNESBURG – Lions captain Warren Whiteley, his teammate Malcolm Marx and possibly Bulls loose-forward Marco van Staden will be "new" additions to the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship after they missed out on the England series in June because of injuries.
All three will join the Boks next week – fitness permitting – when Rassie Erasmus and his coaching team start their preparations in earnest for the upcoming competition, which also features Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
Erasmus’ squad – which is set to be named either Saturday after the Super Rugby final, or Sunday – will also include overseas-based players, Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux, but they may only join the squad in the week before the first Test against Argentina; that is next week before the teams clash in Durban.
The big question is, how many other overseas-based players will Erasmus pick in his squad? Duane Vermeulen isn’t available and after Frans Steyn and Bismarck du Plessis withdrew from the squad in June, will Erasmus now turn to them, or look elsewhere.
Is prop Vincent Koch fit after undergoing surgery a few weeks ago, does Francois Louw come into the picture as a specialist fetcher flank and is there place for veteran backs JP Pietersen and Juan de Jongh?
And, where best does inspirational captain Siya Kolisi fit into the Bok picture going forward – as openside fetcher or blindside carrier?
The Bulls’ Van Staden would have featured against England had he not got injured on the eve of the series and has shown for his franchise in Super Rugby he is a man with a very bright future. Kwagga Smith will also be a player Erasmus has to consider following his recent strong performances, while Cyle Brink is a player Erasmus has long admired.
It is uncertain whether lock Eben Etzebeth will be fit for the Argentina matches, while there is believed to be some doubt around the fitness of Damian de Allende, too. Warrick Gelant and Sbu Nkosi are definitely out of the mix because of injuries, so Erasmus needs to find a new starting wing, and a backup at fullback for Le Roux.
The squad will initially consist of about 36 players. The first two Tests are against Argentina in Durban on August 18 and in Mendoza on August 25.@jacq_west