Meyer loses out on Brian Mujati, De Villiers makes progress

2012-11-06 00:00

COACH Heyneke Meyer’s efforts to include Zimbabwean Brian Mujati in his 32-Springbok squad for their tour of the UK appear to have failed and the Ireland-based former Lions prop Heinke van der Merwe is expected to join the squad.

SA Rugby Union officials have been frantic to gain permission for Mujati, the former Zimabwean who plays for Northampton, to join the Springboks.

But Mujati, who has played previously for the Springboks, is still not a South African citizen and Meyer has had to look elsewhere to bolster his front-row reserves.

It is now believed that the 27-year-old Van der Merwe, who plays for Leinster, will join the squad as the 32nd player.

The Springboks open their tour against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday and both captain Jean de Villiers (hamstring) and flank Francois Louw (neck) remain fitness concerns.

Craig Roberts, the Springbok team doctor, said yesterday that De Villiers was “making good progress”.

“He is going well and he is training, but we will continue to assess him during the week,” he said.

Louw, who was to have played for his English club Bath at the weekend, was withdrawn from the match and he will also face a fitness test later in the week.

Meyer said yesterday that the three-Test tour came at a difficult time for the Springboks at the end of a long and demanding season.

“But I still have a number of goals.

“First, I want to see which players really want to be Springboks.

“It showed in the attitude of Schalk Britz [the Saracens hooker].

“When I phoned him about his selection, he said that it didn’t matter if he just carried tackle bags for the whole tour. He said he just wanted to be involved in the Bok set-up again. That’s what I want.”

Meyer said he also wanted the players to enjoy the experience of touring, but there was a need to improve and strive for excellence.

“We want to win every Test, but I also want to see which of our young players can perform in difficult conditions at the end of a hard year.

“I don’t want to keep chopping and changing players, so it is important that I settle on a squad for next year.”

He said the Boks had the makings of a strong side.

“We have eight or nine players who are 22 years and younger and we will be even stronger when the some of our experienced players, who have not been available, return next year.”

News from the Irish camp is that their talented backrower Stephen Ferris has been ruled out of the Bok Test because of an ankle injury.

The 27-year-old Ferris, a veteran of 35 internationals, had suffered an ankle injury playing alongside Ruan Pienaar for Ulster on Friday.

Meanwhile, former Springbok flyhalf Butch James yesterday confirmed what most knew — that he will play for the Sharks in next year’s Super Rugby competition. The 33-year-old James announced on Twitter that he had signed with his old team.

“Officially Black & White for next year! Its good to be home!!” he said.

James will be backup flyhalf to Patrick Lambie and will be used in a mentorship role with the Sharks.

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