Marcell Coetzee, Cornal Hendricks still in ‘hot mix’ for Springbok squad - Rassie Erasmus
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CAPE TOWN - There is definitely still a chance for players like Marcell Coetzee, Cornal Hendricks and Curwin Bosch to be called up to the Springbok squad later this season.
That was the assurance given by SA Rugby’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, and Bok coach Jacques Nienaber following the announcement of a 46-man group on Saturday night for the upcoming Tests against Georgia and the British and Irish Lions.
Coetzee was the Man of the Match in the Bulls’ 31-27 victory over the Stormers on Friday night, where he proved that he is over the thigh injury he picked up while at Ulster that had sidelined him for three months.
Hendricks has been in top form for the Bulls since the sport resumed in South Africa late last year, and Bosch has had his moments for the Sharks as well.
But despite the trio missing out at this stage, the Boks’ hectic schedule in 2021 should see them being involved at some stage.
“I think you are right – we mustn’t hide from the tough questions. The obvious names… Marcell Coetzee hasn’t been playing for nine to 12 weeks, but he is a class act and he did well last night (Friday night),” said during SuperSport’s live broadcast of the squad announcement.
“But it’s a long season, and he can play another two games – hopefully if the Bulls go through to the final, if the Sharks don’t go through. We can see him playing after 9-12 weeks. Duane might be injured, so Marcell is hot in the frame. We are looking at him and just want to see him at his best and hundred percent fit.
“Curwin Bosch is one of the players that everybody knows. Lizo Gqoboka … there are so many guys we can chat about, but we don’t just look at the British and Irish Lions.
“After that, there is the Rugby Championship, there is the end-of-year tour, and there is no reason – because it’s a home series in South Africa – if we lose a senior flyhalf or something like that happens, that we can’t pull in somebody like Curwin.
“This is just a squad that we thought we would play the SA A side game with, and obviously the (initial) Springbok Test matches with. But a lot of things can happen – there were a lot of injuries this weekend that happened.
“Same with Cornal Hendricks … There is a little bit of an issue around him. We had a good meeting with him about 10 days ago, where we tried to clear up some medical issues around him. So, the moment that’s cleared up, we really want him – he obviously should make a squad of 46.
“So, all of those guys are hot in the mix, but we decided only to pick this 46.”
Bulls loosehead Gqoboka was left out as Nienaber opted for Sharks No 1 Ox Nche and World Cup winner Steven Kitshoff, while tightheads Trevor Nyakane and Thomas du Toit can both fill in at loosehead if required as well.
In the midfield, Damian de Allende and Frans Steyn got the nod as inside centres ahead of Hendricks, while Kwagga Smith and Marco van Staden were picked instead of Coetzee as openside flankers.
But with Duane Vermeulen’s ankle injury flaring up while on Bulls duty, Coetzee could even come into the squad as a No 8, where Dan du Preez and Jasper Wiese are the current back-ups.
“Definitely a chance for those guys, especially Marcell. Like Rassie said earlier, Marcell last played against Leinster on 6 March – that was when he got injured,” Nienaber said during an online press conference on Saturday night.
“So this (the Bulls v Stormers match) was literally his first game back in Week 13, after his injury. And that’s the home-ground advantage we have with Marcell playing in South Africa. He can play in the Rainbow Cup final and against the Lions on 3 July.
“Hopefully we don’t pick up injuries, but obviously guys like that can still make the squad.”
Props: Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen
Hookers: Joseph Dweba, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni
Locks: Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman
Loose forwards: Dan du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese
Utility forwards: Jean-Luc du Preez, Rynhardt Elstadt
Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk, Herschel Jantjies, Sanele Nohamba, Cobus Reinach
Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies, Handré Pollard, Morné Steyn
Midfielders: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Wandisile Simelane, Frans Steyn
Outside Backs: Aphelele Fassi, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Yaw Penxe, Rosko Specman, Damian Willemse