Meyer thankful to include Du Preez

2013-08-05 00:00

NATIONAL coach Heyneke Meyer has finally landed his big fish and included veteran Fourie du Preez in his 30-man Springbok squad for the Rugby Championships starting later this month.

The 31-year-old Du Preez, who has been playing his club rugby in Japan, has been released to play in the Springboks’ three home Tests in South Africa. Free State scrumhalf Piet van Zyl will replace him for overseas internationals.

Meyer was desperate to select Du Preez last year, but contractual problems prevented his recall.

There are two other additions to the squad who won the Incoming Series against Scotland, Italy and Samoa in June.

Prop Gurthrö Steenkamp, based in France, returns along with number eight Duane Vermeulen, who has been sidelined this year because of a knee injury.

Meyer said he was delighted to have his old Blue Bulls scrumhalf back in the fold.

“We’re very thankful to everyone at the SA Rugby Union and Suntory who made it possible to select Fourie. He has been out of international rugby for a while and it makes sense to involve him as soon as possible. Piet [van Zyl] will slot in without any problems when necessary.”

Meyer has two other scrumhalves, Ruan Pienaar and Jano Vermaark, in the squad.

Both Vermeulen, who will take over from the injured Pierre Spies, and Steenkamp were involved in the Springboks’ unbeaten tour to Ireland, Scotland and England last year.

“It’s great to have Duane back after he played such an important role for us at the end of last season,” said Meyer.

“We’ve managed to keep a lot of continuity between this squad of 30 players and the squad that did duty during the Incoming Series.

“It’s vitally important for the younger players in the set-up to get more experienced and increase their Test caps, but this will be a very tough Championship.”

The Springboks will open their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina in Soweto as part of the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day celebrations on August 17. A week later they face the Pumas in Mendoza.

The two Tests Down Under take place on September 7 in Brisbane and on September 14 in Auckland. The final two home Tests are scheduled for September 28 in Cape Town (against Australia) and October 5 in Johannesburg (against New Zealand).

“Argentina showed last year what they can do,” Meyer said. “Our focus will be on building on what we achieved in June and improving in areas where we were not satisfied.”

Only locally-based players will gather this week to start preparations, with the full squad assembling on Monday, August 12.

Players not considered because of injury include Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Arno Botha, Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard, Johan Goosen, Jaco Taute and Frans Steyn.

SOUTH AFRICA SQUAD

Outside backs: Bjorn Basson, Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Willie le Roux.

Centres: Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein

Flyhalves: Pat Lambie, Morné Steyn

S crumhalves: Fourie du Preez (Tests in SA), Ruan Pienaar, Jano Vermaak, Piet van Zyl (overseas leg)

Loose forwards: Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen

Props: Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Gurthrö Steenkamp

Hookers: Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Adriaan Strauss

Locks: Eben Etzebeth, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Franco van der Merwe

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