New faces aplenty in Bok end of year squads

Allister Coetzee
Allister Coetzee

Cape Town - Several promising young players who have shot to prominence on the domestic scene this year, have been included in the 30-man Springbok squad for the international clash against the Barbarians on November 5 at the Wembley Stadium in London.

This match is being played outside the international window and thus only South African-based players could be selected.

The squad for the Barbarians consists of 12 uncapped players, while the rest of the group performed duty in the recent Rugby Championship.

The uncapped players are Lizo Gqoboka (Blue Bulls), Thomas du Toit (Sharks), RG Snyman (Blue Bulls), Roelof Smit (Blue Bulls), Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks), Uzair Cassiem (Free State Cheetahs), Tian Schoeman (Blue Bulls), Francois Venter (Free State Cheetahs), Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Golden Lions), Sergeal Petersen (Free State Cheetahs), Jamba Ulengo (Blue Bulls) and Cheslin Kolbe (Western Province).

Of these players, Gqoboka, Du Toit, Snyman, Du Preez, Venter and Petersen featured for the SA 'A' team against the touring England Saxons in June.

However, the Boks have been dealt a number of injury blows with experienced players Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh, Francois Louw and Julian Redelinghuys, all of whom featured during the Rugby Championship, ruled out.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee also explained that after discussions with Duane Vermeulen, it was decided that his conditioning is not up to international standard since his recent return from injury. He will also return to South Africa in November to be with his wife when the couple’s second child is born.

As a result, flanks Smit and Du Preez, Petersen (wing) and Venter (centre) will remain with the Springbok squad for the remainder of the Outgoing Tour, while the rest of the uncapped players return home after the opening match.

The Bok squad was further boosted with the return of Ruan Combrinck, who has recovered from the leg injury which ruled him out for most of the Rugby Championship, as well as the inclusion of the experienced JP Pietersen and Jannie du Plessis, both of whom were not involved in the most recent campaign.

Meanwhile, Coetzee said he is looking to working with the group of young players in the build-up to the Barbarians match.

“It is great to have such a big group of young, exciting players with us for the Barbarians match. I view this as a great opportunity to start building for the future. The selection of many of these players are part of our road map for 2019,” said Coetzee.

“They are identified as part of our succession planning going forward. Their selection in the Springbok squad is reward for their consistently good performances this year, at both Vodacom Super Rugby and Currie Cup level.

“The match against the Barbarians is a great occasion for them to show that they belong on this level. It is an opportunity to show their class on the highest level and to gain experience of international rugby.

“My message to them would be to make it impossible for me to ignore them for future selections and to embrace this well-deserved opportunity.”

The Springbok coach added: “Francois, Jean-Luc, Sergeal and Roelof will stay behind as part of the Springbok squad for the Tests against England, Italy and Wales. It will be good for them to experience the ethos of the Springboks while on tour and with strong performances, I am sure that they will be involved on a regular basis with the Springboks in the future.

“It is also very pleasing to see the return JP and Jannie, as their experience will be vital for us, as well as Ruan, who is now fully fit again. They are welcome additions to the squad because we have a long list of injured players who are unfortunately not available for selection,” said Coetzee.

With several tightheads out injured at the moment, there is a recall for the experienced Jannie du Plessis: “We have been hit hard with injuries in that position. Frans, Julian, Coenie and a contender such as Ruan Dreyer are all injured at the moment, while several of the other experienced tightheads are playing overseas,” explains Coetzee.

The following players, who were part of Bok squads earlier this year, were not considered for the tour because of injuries: Lwazi Mvovo, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard, Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Frans Malherbe, Julian Redelinghuys and Scarra Ntubeni.

“Apart from those players, other experienced campaigners such as Jan Serfontein, Handré Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee, Coenie Oosthuizen and Bismarck du Plessis are also not available,” added Coetzee.

Regarding the challenge of playing in the northern hemisphere, the Springbok coach said: “We know that playing during winter in the northern hemisphere is always a huge challenge. The conditions are different and it requires an even more physical and tactical battle and all Test matches played in Europe were almost always decided by small margins in the past.”

“Yes, we have a long injury list, but we prefer to see it as an amazing opportunity for the players selected in the squad. We are looking forward to turn things around on tour against quality opposition,” said Coetzee.

Adriaan Strauss is the captain and leads both squad in his last Springbok tour before his retirement from international rugby.

South Africa squad versus Barbarians:

Forwards (17)

Lourens Adriaanse, Nizaam Carr, Uzair Cassiem, Eben Etzebeth, Lizo Gqoboka, Lood de Jager, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Oupa Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Jean-Luc du Preez, Roelof Smit, RG Snyman, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Thomas du Toit

Backs (13)

Damian de Allende, Ruan Combrinck, Faf de Klerk, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Patrick Lambie, Rudy Paige, Sergeal Petersen, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Tian Schoeman, Jamba Ulengo, Francois Venter, Piet van Zyl

Note: No foreign-based players available for Barbarians match

South Africa squad versus England, Italy and Wales

Forwards (18)

Willem Alberts, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Jaco Kriel, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Oupa Mohoje, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Jannie du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Preez, Roelof Smit, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Warren Whiteley

Backs (15)

Damian de Allende, Ruan Combrinck, Faf de Klerk, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Patrick Lambie, Lionel Mapoe, Rudy Paige, Sergeal Petersen, JP Pietersen, Willie le Roux, Francois Venter, Piet van Zyl

Note: South Africa play the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium in London on November 5, England at Twickenham in London on November 12, Italy in Florence on November 19 and Wales in Cardiff on November 26.

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