Tried and trusted for tour

2013-10-26 00:00

SHARKS wing JP Pietersen, currently playing his rugby in Japan, will return to the 30-man Springbok squad for the three-Test tour of Europe next month. However, world-class scrumhalf Fourie du Preez is expected to miss the trip.

Meyer has delayed announcing his touring squad until late on Monday — rather than in the emotional moments immediately after the Currie Cup final. The indications are that he will tour with his strongest possible squad rather than including up-and-coming talent.

While a number of players — among them captain Jean de Villiers and prop Jannie du Plessis — desperately need a break from the game after 10 months of rugby, Meyer is aware that the rugby public would not tolerate a defeat by Wales, Scotland or France on their tour.

The 27-year-old Pietersen, who will return to Durban in February to play Super Rugby for the Sharks, also has an agreement with his Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights to play for the Springboks on this end-of-year tour.

The 103 kg Pietersen will be particularly effective in the heavy going in Europe and he can play wing, outside centre or even at fullback where he first played for the Sharks.

Du Preez, who made an immediate impact after returning to the Springbok side from Japan, is believed to be nursing an injury that will rule him out of the tour.

Ruan Pienaar, reportedly in excellent form for Ulster and at home in the European conditions, will take over as the first-choice scrumhalf on tour.

An exciting selection as back-up would be Rory Kockott but Meyer is unlikely to add any more overseas-based players.

Kockott, the former Sharks scrumhalf, has just been crowned French Top 14 Player of the Year for 2012-13.

His 376 points (three more than Jonny Wilkinson scored for Toulon) took Castres to the title. His sublime form won him the award ahead of former All Black wing Sitiveni Sivivatu.

Kockott has said publicly that his ambition is to play for the Springboks but he does become eligible for France next year.

Meyer could freshen up the squad by adding Springboks Schalk Burger, Frans Steyn and Johan Goosen to the mix. The three have all returned to Currie Cup in recent weeks after extended injury breaks. Meyer will remain loyal to his 2013 Springbok squad members and there will be little space for additional players.

This would also mean that other in-form players, such as Province fullback Gio Aplon, could miss out on selection.


November 9: Wales (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff)

November 17: Scotland (Murrayfield, Edinburgh)

November 23: France (Stade de France, Paris).

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