Smit rejects claims that the Boks are touring with a ‘b team’

2011-07-16 00:00

LOCK Johann Muller and flank Heinrich Brüssow were yesterday cleared to join the Springboks on their Tri-Nations tour to Australia and New Zealand while prop CJ van der Linde has been added to the tour party.

Muller, the former Sharks lock and captain now with Ulster, was nursing a hamstring strain while Brüssow is returning to action after missing most of the season because of injuries.

Van der Linde, who has also been sidelined in recent weeks because of a groin problem, was yesterday passed fit and will provide cover at tighthead.

He completes the 28-man squad for the Tests against Australia in Sydney on July 23 and New Zealand in Wellington a week later.

“Johann and Heinrich are very important to us this year and they’ll continue their rehabilitation on tour,” said Springbok coach Peter de Villiers.

He added, “This squad is a good blend of experienced players, with Rugby World Cup titles behind their name, and the form players from Super Rugby, with some outstanding potential. We’ve had some good field session this week and I’m excited about this tour.

“I’ve told the players that this is their chance to prove that they’re ready to take their place in the final [RWC] squad.”

While Springbok captain John Smit yesterday warmly rejected claims that the South Africans were touring with a B squad, at least 23 of the country’s leading players are missing the trip.

“There are guys who have taken a bit of strain [during the Super Rugby season] and these guys that are going over there, if they’re a B team, it is because it stands for Boks and nothing else,” Smit told reporters yesterday.

“We are going over there to play some rugby and not just to make up the numbers and that is what happened four years ago,” he added.

Bok coach in 2007, Jake White, also left his senior players at home for the away leg of the Tri-Nations and months later the Springboks won the RWC.

Smit is one of the few Bok veterans in the tour party and he admitted that the loss of 23 players had created problems.

“Injuries are part and parcel of what we do,” Smit said.

“I don’t think the big man intended for us to run into each other at 60 km per hour so I guess it is tough times for some guys. But the guys who are fit and have been training have shown some real good energy over the last two weeks and it has actually been good fun.”

All Black coach Graham Henry said he respected the Springboks’ decision to omit overworked players from the tour party and added that he would be resting a number of Crusaders players during the Tri-Nations.

The Springbok squad left for Australia last night.

The Springboks return to play Australia in Durban on August 13 and New Zealand in Port Elizabeth on August 20.

Most of the senior Springboks are expected to rejoin the squad for the home Tests. The final Rugby World Cup squad will be named on August 23.


Backs: Gio Aplon (Western Province), Bjorn Basson (Blue Bulls), Juan de Jongh (Western Province), Adrian Jacobs (Sharks), Elton Jantjies (Lions) , Patrick Lambie (Sharks) , Charl McLeod (Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), Odwa Ndungane (Sharks), Wynand Olivier (Blue Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Morné Steyn (Blue Bulls) .

Forwards: Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs), Jean Deysel (Sharks), Dean Greyling (Blue Bulls), Alistair Hargreaves (Sharks), Ryan Kankowski ( Sharks), Werner Kruger (Blue Bulls), Ashley Johnson (Cheetahs), Johan Muller (Ulster), Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Blue Bulls), Danie Rossouw (Blue Bulls), John Smit (Sharks) captain, Deon Stegmann (Blue Bulls), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), CJ van der Linde (Western Province), Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls).

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