Div ignores Aussies’ baying

2011-07-09 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers has ignored sabre-rattling Australians and named a largely second-string tour party for the rugby internationals against the Wallabies and All Blacks at the end of the month.

De Villiers has omitted the 21 players listed as injured earlier in the week — and this includes nearly all his first-choice selections — in spite of angry opposition from the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).

The Bok coach yesterday added two more names to the list, with number eight Pierre Spies just back from his hols in Italy and nursing a groin injury, and fullback Zane Kirchner (shoulder) also ruled out.

Prop Coenie Oosthuizen (ankle) and lock Johann Muller (hamstring) were included, but will face fitness tests on Monday.

The tourists will be led by John Smit, the most capped international captain in Test rugby, and the inexperienced, 27-man squad contains six uncapped players.

The squad is short of back-up at tighthead prop and De Villiers said he was hoping that former World Cup prop CJ van der Linde (groin) would pass a fitness test on Monday to join the tour.

“If CJ doesn’t come through, I don’t know what I will do,” he said.

He emphasised that Smit would play on tour as a hooker.

“John is a hooker. He can cover at prop, but we only want to use him as a hooker for this tour.”

The six uncapped players are flyhalf Elton Jantjies, scrumhalf Charl McLeod, loose forward Ashley Johnson and props Coenie Oosthuizen, Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling. All but Greyling have appeared in non-cap matches for the Springboks.

“We’ve rewarded players who have performed outstandingly in Super Rugby,” said De Villiers. “The injury situation has also been critical, but there is a backbone of experience and it means that all our leading players will receive Test exposure this year.”

The tour squad will assemble in Johannesburg tomorrow afternoon and leave for Australia on July 15. The Boks play the Wallabies in Sydney on July 23 and the All Blacks in Wellington a week later before returning to South Africa for the home leg of the Tri-Nations.

SA Rugby Union CEO Jurie Roux yesterday dismissed claims by the ARU that the Springboks were resting their leading players ahead of the World Cup and touring with a B team.

ARU chief executive John O’Neill said he had called on Sanzar’s chief executive officer, Greg Peters, to investigate the Boks’ selection.

Roux said this was the best uninjured group of South African players.

“Australia and New Zealand are within their rights to question our selection. Sanzar have made an inquiry and we’ve given them our reply, and I know that they are happy with the result.

“We have a binding agreement to take the best available squad to Australia, and we are staying true to our word.”

Still, one does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to question the likelihood of South Africa’s top two dozen players all falling over with various ailments on the eve of a Tri-Nations tour — just as they did four years ago — and De Villiers will face a blizzard in Oz.

The Bok coach said that ideally there should not be a Tri-Nations in a World Cup year.

“It’s by chance that we are unable to take our experienced players on tour. There are 22 or 23 players injured, but nobody should assume that every player in that [injured] group is going to the World Cup. There are still eight or nine spots left to play for and young players on this tour have a chance to put up their hands.”

“They all have an opportunity, and they must use it.”

The squad contains nine Sharks while four more are among the walking wounded (the Du Plessis brothers, JP Pietersen and Willem Alberts).

 

SPRINGBOK TOURING SQUAD

Backs: Gio Aplon, Bjorn Basson, Juan de Jongh, Adrian Jacobs, Elton Jantjies, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, Wynand Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, Morne Steyn

Forwards: Heinrich Brüssow, Jean Deysel, Dean Greyling, Alistair Hargreaves, Ryan Kankowski, Werner Kruger, Ashley Johnson, Johann Muller, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Danie Rossouw, John Smit (captain), Deon Stegmann, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe.

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