Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, has included 17 uncapped players in his first Springbok squad of 43 for the four Tests next month, against Wales in the USA and Castle Lager Incoming Series at home against England.
The Bok squad consists of a mixture of exciting new players who have performed well in Vodacom Super Rugby and the Guinness PRO14, combined with a number of experienced stalwarts. The squad consists of 24 forwards and 19 backs and the 26 players with Test experience have a combined total of 627 caps.
The uncapped players are Ox Nche (prop), Thomas du Toit (prop), Akker van der Merwe (hooker), RG Snyman (lock), Marvin Orie (lock), Jason Jenkins (lock), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (loose forward), Kwagga Smith (loose forward), Ivan van Zyl (scrumhalf), Embrose Papier (scrumhalf), Cameron Wright (scrumhalf), Robert du Preez (flyhalf), Andre Esterhuizen (centre), Sibusiso Nkosi (wing), Aphiwe Dyantyi (wing), Makazole Mapimpi (wing) and Travis Ismaiel (wing).
Erasmus has also included five players from abroad, who will bring necessary experience in key positions. They are Bismarck du Plessis (hooker), Duane Vermeulen (No 8), Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf), Frans Steyn (centre) and Willie le Roux (fullback).
SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby said he is excited to get the squad together on the training field for the first time on Monday in Johannesburg to kick off preparations for the Welsh Test.
“The coaching staff has done a lot of preparation and the players’ contribution in this process, during and after our three camps, has been tremendously positive,” said Erasmus.
“We know Wales and England will be very thorough in their analysis and overall preparation and we have to be ready for them. The players know what we expect of them, and that they will have to work very hard in a short space of time to be ready for the Tests against Wales and England.”
Erasmus added that several players really impressed him and the national selectors with consistently good performances during the past few months.
“It’s good to see how our exciting young players have grabbed their opportunities for their franchises in the last couple of months,” said Erasmus.
“But we also know how important experience is at Test level, so we thought long and hard about which players to pull in form abroad, and in the end we only settled on five who we thought consistently performed well for their clubs in the tough English and French competitions.
“I am confident that we have a strong group of players from which we will be able to select a very competitive team for each of the four Test matches in June.”
SA Rugby granted Erasmus special permission to include overseas-based players with fewer than the required 30 Test caps where it was believed there was insufficient depth in SA. Erasmus will make an announcement on the captaincy on Monday.
The Springboks begin their international season on Saturday, 2 June against Wales in Washington DC, which will be the first time that Erasmus takes charge of the team.
Following the match in Washington, the Boks then return to South Africa to face a powerful England side in three much-anticipated Tests in the Castle Larger Incoming Series. Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg host the series opener on 9 June, the second Test is scheduled for 16 June at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, and the final encounter will be played on 23 June at DHL Newlands in Cape Town.
The Springbok squad for the June internationals (in order of name, position, franchise, Test caps, points):
Nizaam Carr (loose forward, DHL Stormers, 5, 0)
Bismarck du Plessis (hooker, Montpellier, France, 79, 55 – 11t)
Dan du Preez (loose forward, Cell C Sharks, 3, 0)
Jean-Luc du Preez (loose forward, Cell C Sharks, 10, 10 – 2t)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock, DHL Stormers, 32, 20 – 4t)
Thomas du Toit (prop, Cell C Sharks, uncapped)
Jason Jenkins (lock, Vodacom Bulls, uncapped)
Steven Kitshoff (prop, DHL Stormers, 23, 5 – 1t)
Siya Kolisi (loose forward, DHL Stormers, 28, 20 – 4t)
Wilco Louw (prop, DHL Stormers, 5, 0)
Frans Malherbe (prop, DHL Stormers, 17, 0)
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker, DHL Stormers, 14, 5 – 1t)
Oupa Mohojé (loose forward, Toyota Cheetahs 18, 0)
Franco Mostert (lock, Emirates Lions, 18, 5 – 1t)
Tendai Mtawarira (prop, Cell C Sharks, 98, 10 – 2t)
Ox Nche (prop, Toyota Cheetahs, uncapped)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (loose forward, DHL Stormers, uncapped)
Trevor Nyakane (prop, Vodacom Bulls, 37, 5 – 1t)
Marvin Orie (lock, Emirates Lions, uncapped)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker, Cell C Sharks 23, 5 – 1t)
Kwagga Smith (loose forward, Emirates Lions, uncapped)
RG Snyman (lock, Vodacom Bulls, uncapped)
Akker van der Merwe (hooker, Cell C Sharks, uncapped)
Duane Vermeulen (loose forward, Toulon, France, 39, 10 – 2t)
Lukhanyo Am (centre, Cell C Sharks, 1, 0)
Curwin Bosch (utility back Cell C Sharks, 1, 0)
Damian de Allende (centre, DHL Stormers, 28, 15 – 3t)
Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf, Sale Sharks, England, 11, 0)
Robert du Preez (flyhalf, Cell C Sharks, uncapped)
Aphiwe Dyantyi (wing, Emirates Lions, uncapped)
André Esterhuizen (centre, Cell C Sharks, uncapped)
Warrick Gelant (fullback, Vodacom Bulls, 2, 5 – 1t)
Travis Ismaiel (wing, Vodacom Bulls, uncapped)
Elton Jantjies (flyhalf, Emirates Lions, 23, 203 – 2t, 38c, 39p)
Jesse Kriel (centre, Vodacom Bulls, 29, 40 – 8t)
Willie le Roux (fullback, Wasps, England, 41, 50 – 10t)
Makazole Mapimpi (wing, Cell C Sharks, uncapped)
Sibusiso Nkosi (wing, Cell C Sharks, uncapped)
Embrose Papier (scrumhalf, Vodacom Bulls, uncapped)
Handré Pollard (flyhalf, Vodacom Bulls, 26, 218 – 3t, 37c, 40p, 3d)
Frans Steyn (utility back, Montpellier, France, 56, 132 – 10t, 5c, 21p, 3d)
Ivan van Zyl (scrumhalf, Vodacom Bulls, uncapped)
Cameron Wright (scrumhalf, Cell C Sharks, uncapped)