DURBAN - There were no major surprises in the Springbok squad named on Sunday for the end-of-year tour to Europe, and the four new caps were widely predicted.
Joining the 34-man squad for Tests against Ireland, Italy, France and Wales are Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant, Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am, Sharks No 8 Dan du Preez and his teammate, scrumhalf Louis Schreuder.
Of the four, only Gelant has not been part of a Bok group before and his consistently good form in the Currie Cup was always going to be rewarded by coach Allister Coetzee.
Sharks prop Coenie Oosthuizen has recovered from a long-standing arm injury to reclaim his place in the squad but there is possible bad news for his teammate, Jean-Luc du Preez, who is in the squad subject to the results of an MRI scan on an ankle injury sustained in the weekend’s Currie Cup final. This could result in a replacement for Du Preez being named this week.
Cheetahs No 8 Uzair Cassiem is another player back from injury while Tendai Mtawarira returns after missing the Test against New Zealand because of personal reasons.
Back in favour with coach Coetzee is the Cheetahs pair of Francois Venter (centre) and Oupa Mohoje (loose forward).
A host of players were not considered because of injury. They are: Warren Whiteley (No 8), Jaco Kriel (flank), Frans Malherbe (prop), Sbu Nkosi (wing) and Ruan Combrinck (wing).
Meanwhile, centre Jan Serfontein asked not to be considered for the tour because he wishes to settle down at French club, Montpellier.
“This squad reflects consistency and continuity, while we also rewarded players who have constantly shown good form this season,” explained Coetzee.
“Warrick and Lukhanyo are two examples of players who have excelled in the season. I look forward to working with them, but at the same time I feel sorry for Sbu Nkosi in particular - he had an impressive debut senior season and it is unfortunate he will miss the tour because of his elbow injury.
“With the World Cup now less than two years away, this demanding tour gives us another very good opportunity to keep on building depth and experience."
Coetzee said he would also like to see continuous improvement and progress, building on the foundations laid so far this year.
“This group has shown a genuine willingness to evolve and they continuously strive to be better players within our environment,” said Coetzee.
The Bok coach also announced that Siya Kolisi will return to Cape Town after the Test against France in Paris on 18 November as his wife, Rachel, is due to give birth the following week.
He will not be available for the Test against Italy on 25 November in Padova, but will re-join the group for the final tour match in Cardiff against Wales.
Players who are contracted to overseas clubs - Franco Mostert, Francois Louw and Elton Jantjies - will not be considered for selection for the 2 December encounter against Wales, as this Test falls outside the international window.