The Springboks will once again be led by Jean De Villiers as he comes back from injury for the Rugby Championship.
Jean is one of six players that comes back from injury. The players who did not take part in the June internationals that got back into the group are Jean De Villiers(Captain), Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Patrick Lambie, and Damian de Allende.
Meyer did include De Allende in the June internationals squad but he was forced to withdraw due to an injury he picked up in the Super Rugby match just before the June break against the Sharks.
The other uncapped player in the group is Sharks scrum half Cobus Reinach who gets rewarded for a brilliant season with the Cell C Sharks.
Meyer have decided that players like Cornal Hendricks, Teboho “Oupa” Mahoje, Lood de Jager and Handre Pollard did enough in the June test window to deserve a recall for the Rugby Championships.
Heyneke Meyer was clearly happy to have his captain back in the frame,“It’s great to have Jean back to lead the side in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship,” he said.
“Victor Matfield and Jan Serfontein both did superbly well in his absence, but he is our captain and I’m sure he will slot back into the side without any difficulty. The same goes for Eben, Frans and Patrick, all of whom have been part of the squad before.
“We will medically assess all the players in the squad in Johannesburg next week. This will not only include the players who missed the June Tests because of injury, but also someone such as Mtawarira, who has been out of action for a while. We will deal with every player and his needs individually.”
Commenting on the inclusion of Hendricks, a recent gold medal winner in sevens at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, Mohoje, De Jager and Pollard, Meyer said: “These players have impressed from the first minute they joined us. This is a step up for all of them, but that is the kind of challenge we thrive on.
“It’s never easy cutting a squad down in size and we’re fortunate that we have a number of experienced players who will be on stand-by should their services be needed.”
Meyer said he is looking forward to the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, which kicks off on Saturday, 16 August when Australia host New Zealand in Sydney and the Springboks take on Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria (kick-off at 17h00).
The Springbok squad will gather in Johannesburg for a pre-competition camp from 4 to 8 August and then again on 10 August in Pretoria, where they will prepare for the Test against Argentina.
“We’ve been steadily improving over the past two years but another step-up is needed this season,” said Meyer.
“It’s been a theme for us since the start of the season and we must simply keep on accelerating in the coming two months. We’ve set ourselves some goals for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship and we’ll have to be focused and switched on from the moment we get together in Johannesburg.
“Winning matches and scoring tries remain foremost in our minds. During the four matches in June, we scored 23 tries, which we were very happy with. I think we can be proud of the rugby we played against Wales and Scotland, but that is in the past now and we have a new competition to get ready for.
“There are many good things we can build on from the June series, but also some things we need to work on if we’re going to be competitive in the coming months. It’s a challenge we relish though and I can’t wait to get going.”
Two senior Springboks who will play in Japan in the coming months, JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger, were not considered for the start of the competition. They have to report to their respective clubs next week.
“Obviously the squad can change during the course of the Rugby Championship and although JP and Schalk were not considered at this stage, they could still feature later in the competition,” said Meyer.
Injured players who were not available for selection after featuring in 2013 or earlier in 2014, are Flip van der Merwe (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Fourie du Preez (ankle) and Jaque Fourie (ankle).
The Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship 2014:
|Willem Alberts||Cell C Sharks||Loose forward||32|
|Bakkies Botha||Toulon, France||Lock||79|
|Schalk Brits||Saracens, England||Hooker||7|
|Marcell Coetzee||Cell C Sharks||Loose forward||16|
|Damian De Allende||DHL Western Province||Centre / Wing||0|
|Lodewyk de Jager||Toyota FS Cheetahs||Lock||3|
|Jean de Villiers (captain)||DHL Western Province||Centre||96|
|Bismarck du Plessis||Cell C Sharks||Hooker||60|
|Jannie du Plessis||Cell C Sharks||Prop||54|
|Eben Etzebeth||DHL Western Province||Lock||23|
|Bryan Habana||Toulon, France||Wing||97|
|Cornal Hendricks||Toyota FS Cheetahs||Wing||3|
|Francois Hougaard||Vodacom Blue Bulls||Scrumhalf||28|
|Patrick Lambie||Cell C Sharks||Flyhalf / Fullback||32|
|Willie le Roux||Toyota FS Cheetahs||Fullback / Wing||15|
|Francois Louw||Bath, England||Loose forward||30|
|Frans Malherbe||DHL Western Province||Prop||2|
|Victor Matfield||Vodacom Blue Bulls||Lock||113|
|Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje||Toyota FS Cheetahs||Loose forward||1|
|Tendai Mtawarira||Cell C Sharks||Prop||55|
|Lwazi Mvovo||Cell C Sharks||Wing||9|
|Trevor Nyakane||Toyota FS Cheetahs||Prop||4|
|Ruan Pienaar||Ulster, N Ireland||Scrumhalf||76|
|Handré Pollard||Vodacom Blue Bulls||Flyhalf||1|
|Cobus Reinach||Cell C Sharks||Scrumhalf||0|
|Jan Serfontein||Vodacom Blue Bulls||Centre||12|
|Gurthrö Steenkamp||Toulouse, France||Prop||51|
|Morné Steyn||Stade Francais, France||Flyhalf||56|
|Adriaan Strauss||Toyota FS Cheetahs||Hooker||34|
|Duane Vermeulen||DHL Western Province||No 8||19|