Warhorses are back

2014-05-20 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Saracens hooker Schalk Brits may soon be playing for the Springbok team instead of against them in the World XV vs SA Test.

The selectors yesterday announced a group of 36 players with only two hookers among then — Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss. The third hooker, Scarra Ntubeni, is on the injury list. The group will practise together at a training camp n Durban between May 25 and 28.

With no local player available to hook onto his choice of six props, Meyer will have to look abroad for an experienced man to get the ball in the scrums.

Brits is one of several players who were not considered as they are all contracted to play for their European clubs. Brits would have been playing for the World XV against the Boks at Newlands on June 7, but may now be asked to rather pull the green and gold jersey over his head.

Meyer’s selection may see a further shuffle when with lock Eben Etzebeth also not likely to be fit.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee had said earlier Etzebeth might only be ready to play in four weeks, if an injured ankle heals according to plan.

This places a big question mark behind Etzebeth’s name for the first two Tests, against the World XV in Cape Town on June 7 and against Wales in Durban on June 14.

South Africa have also lost their most experienced outside centre, Jaque Fourie, to a long-term ankle injury.

With Fourie du Preez and Francois Hougaard, the squad has only two scumhalves.

A final Bok squad will announced on May 31. Players not currently in the group, like Brits, Bakkies Botha, Francois Louw, Bryan Habana, Ruan Pienaar, Morné Steyn, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Jano Vermaak could be considered for the final group at month end.

Apart from Pienaar and Vermaak, Meyer will have an opportunity on June 7 to see Rory Kockott in action for the World XV against the Boks. Kockott is making his mark as scrumhalf for the French club Castres Olympique.

The Boks selectors have also called up the veteran warhorses flank Schalk Burger and lock Victor Matfield.

Both played their last Tests in the contentious World Cup quarter-final against Australia in New Zealand in 2011.

Matfield had announced his retirement while Burger suffered a serious knee injury in 2012 and was then unable to play after contracting bacterial meningitis.

But both veterans said earlier this year they still have a lot to offer the Springbok squad.

Matfield is playing with the same energy for the Bulls as any of the locks in the Super Rugby series, while Burger is showing the same work rate as earlier in his career.

Meyer is spoilt for choice with flanks. Veteran Heinrich Brüssow, who is having an exceptional season for the Cheetahs, will be playing for a spot against Louw, Marcell Coetzee and Siya Kolisi.

The newcomer in the group, Damian de Allende, who is having a good season for the Stormers on inside centre and wing, stands a good chance to be capped next month.

Other new players are prop Marcel van der Merwe, lock or flank Jacques du Plessis (both Bulls), loose forward Teboho Mohoje, lock Lood de Jager, winger Cornal Hendricks, centre S’bura Sithole (Sharks) and flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff (Lions).

The Springbok squad

Props: Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen.

Hookers: Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss.

Locks: Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe.

L oose forwards: Heinrich Brüssow, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Willem Alberts, Jacques du Plessis, Teboho Mohoje, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger.

Scrumhalves: Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard.

Flyhalves: Johan Goosen, Marnitz Boshoff.

Centres: Jean de Villiers, Damian de Allende, Jan Serfontein, Juan de Jongh, JJ Engelbrecht, S’bura, Sithole, Frans Steyn.

Wings: Lwazi Mvovo, Bjorn Basson, JP Pietersen, Cornal Hendricks.

Fullback: Willie le Roux.

Injury list: Scarra Ntubeni (hooker, injured foot), Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker, injured knee), Frik Kirsten (prop, neck), Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock, knee), Franco van der Merwe (lock, ankle), Arno Botha (loose forward, knee), Pierre Spies (eightman, arm muscle), Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf, hand), Pat Lambie (fly half, bicep muscle), Gio Aplon (fullback/wing, elbow), Jaque Fourie (centre, ankle).

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