Meyer casts his net wider
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has recalled two European-based forwards and included five uncapped players in his squad to tour Europe.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has recalled two European-based forwards and included five uncapped players in his squad to tour Europe next month.
Hooker Schalk Brits and prop Gurthro Steenkamp are the new faces in the squad along with Cheetahs flyer Raymond Rhule who replaces Bryan Habana.
Habana was the latest key player to be added to a long injury list when he sustained a knee injury in Saturday’s Currie Cup final. Scans on Sunday confirmed he will miss the tour of Ireland, Scotland and England.
Due to the significant injury toll, the national selectors will only decide on a 32nd player to be added to the squad at a later stage.
Baby Bok wing Rhule, who was part of the squad that won the IRB Junior World Championship in Cape Town earlier this year and who has shone for the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup, was named in the squad along with uncapped Jano Vermaak, Franco van der Merwe, Lionel Mapoe and Arno Botha.
Rhule is one of five wing options with the fit-again JP Pietersen, Francois Hougaard, Lwazi Mvovo and Mapoe. Pietersen, Rhule and Mapoe can also be used at centre, while Hougaard can also play at scrumhalf.
Two Springboks who missed the entire Rugby Championship because of injury, Pietersen and Chiliboy Ralepelle, are back in the squad.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, whose squad assembles in Cape Town on Wednesday, said it was not easy to select the squad in the light of the high number of players unavailable due to injury.
Injured players that had been part of the Springbok squad thus far this year, but were not considered for selection, are Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis, Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker, Siya Kolisi, Jacques Potgieter, Pierre Spies, Johan Goosen, Frans Steyn and Habana. Furthermore, Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brüssow are still out injured.
“We’ve got a settled core of players that did the job during the England series and the Rugby Championship and we decided to stick with them,” said Meyer.
“Obviously losing so many players to injury, the latest being Coenie, Tiaan, Andries, Jacques and Bryan during the Currie Cup, makes it difficult, but this now provides opportunities for other players.
“Gurthrö and Schalk are experienced front rankers who have played for South Africa before and know the conditions in the Northern Hemisphere. This tour provides a good opportunity to assess them as we plan ahead. Arno, Lionel, Franco and Jano have all been part of our squad earlier in the season.
“Raymond put up his hand for the Junior Boks and the Cheetahs and I’m very excited to see what he can do. It’s also great to have JP and Chiliboy back from injury as they bring a lot of experience to the squad.”
Meyer said he expected three extremely difficult Tests: “Although the Springboks won on their last visit to Dublin (in 2010), they lost three in a row before that,” he said.
“In 2010, we lost to Scotland in Edinburgh. They beat the Wallabies in Australia earlier in the year, so it won’t be easy there.
“And in June we’ve experienced first-hand how difficult an opponent England are. They will be fired up at Twickenham and it will be a challenging Test to end the tour with.
“Our aim is to end the season on a positive note. We set ourselves high standards and we want to improve with every Test, but we have a team that is still gaining valuable experience as we strive to constantly be amongst the top sides in the world. We know we’re not there yet, but we’ve laid a foundation in the first nine Tests this year and we will build on that.
“The Rugby World Cup in 2015 also takes place in England, so we will use this tour to see how our players adapt to the conditions as we look ahead to that very important tournament.”
The Springbok squad will assemble in Cape Town on Wednesday and depart to the UK from Johannesburg on Saturday. They will return to South Africa on Monday, 26 November.
Springbok squad: Willem Alberts, Arno Botha, Schalk Brits, Pat Cilliers, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Juandré Kruger, Pat Lambie, Francois Louw, Lionel Mapoe, Tendai Mtawarira, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Raymond Rhule, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Morné Steyn, Adriaan Strauss, Jaco Taute, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe, Franco van der Merwe , Jano Vermaak, Duane Vermeulen.