Three veterans selected

2013-10-29 00:00

THREE overseas-based veterans of the 2007 World Cup-winning squad, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie and Toulon’s Bakkies Botha, have been included in the Springbok squad to tour Europe next month.

Pietersen and Fourie join a third Japanese-based player, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, on the tour.

There have been fitness concerns about Du Preez, who returned to the Springbok team for the home Rugby Championship Tests this year, but the Bok coach is obviously satisfied he will be ready.

The Boks play Wales (November 9), Scotland (November 17) and France (November 23) on their taxing end-of-the-year tour.

There are surprises in the squad and the omission of the powerful centre/fullback Frans Steyn, a player ideally suited to the heavy going overseas and in excellent form in Saturday’s Currie Cup final, is one of them.

While Steyn has only recently returned to action, so has young flyhalf Johan Goosen who has only played off the bench for Free State this year but has been selected.

The inclusion of Louis Schreuder, the Western Province scrumhalf, who had a nightmare Currie Cup final and was comprehensively outplayed by the Sharks’ Charl McLeod, is certainly the major shock.

Schreuder’s imminent and unexpected selection had leaked out before the Currie Cup final, which compromised Meyer, who could hardly have then left him out of the 32 on the strength of that performance.

Certainly Rory Kockott, who has just been crowned French Top 14 Player of the Year for 2012-13 and is a prolific goal-kicker, would have been a more logical choice.

Meyer does have Du Preez and Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar in the squad and Schreuder is unlikely to see action.

Schreuder is one of four new caps in the squad. The others are the 22-year-old “Scarra” Ntubeni, the WP hooker who has dislodged the luckless Chiliboy Ralepelle, promising young tighthead Frans Malherbe and the Sharks’ prodigiously talented lock Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Fullback Gio Aplon is rewarded for his consistent Currie Cup form though Zane Kirchner remains Meyer’s first-choice fullback.

“Scarra’s inclusion, like that of Gio, is reward for continuous great form,” said Meyer yesterday. “He’s still young and will learn a lot from our two front-line hookers [Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss], who both rate amongst the best in the world.

“It will be great to have Bakkies, Jaque and JP in the squad. All of them are really excited to play for the Springboks again.

“Pieter-Steph [du Toit] missed a large part of the season because of injury but has been exceptional since his return to the playing field last month.

Meyer said that Schreuder had “always been on our radar”.

“He is only 23, fits in with the way we want to play and was impressive when he worked with us in June.”

Meyer said the Springboks would like to build on their performances during the Rugby Championship.

“The Welsh have won the Six Nations the last two seasons. It’s our first Test against them since the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and they will be fired up at the Millennium Stadium.

“This year, Scotland finished third in the Six Nations and they will be tough. We’ve not beaten Les Bleus in France since 1997 and will have to be sharp and focused.”

Injuries to Arno Botha, Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard and Jaco Taute meant they were not considered for selection, he said.

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