BaaBaas: Young Boks must set tone for tour
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Coach Allister Coetzee has challenged the young guns to make it impossible for him to ignore them for future selections.
Coetzee, addressing a media briefing at the team's hotel in Johannesburg on Sunday, said the opening match of the year-end tour - against the Barbarians at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday, Bovember 5 - is an important fixture for the month-long trip.
"I see it as a great opportunity for a lot of young players to get a taste of international rugby and a taste of the Springbok culture," the Bok coach said.
"I will be able to see who the guys are that can make, going forward, at this level," he added.
The encounter with the BaaBaas is being played outside the international window and no overseas-based players have been released by their clubs.
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), Rudolph 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.
Pundits feel the Boks' encounter with England at Twickenham on November 12 is seen as the most important match, but Coetzee feels the encounter with the Barbarians must set the tone.
"The BaaBaas game is the most important, to set the tone for the rest of the tour," the coach said, adding: "This is a series where we'll have to take it one test a time."
The coach said the selection of the youngsters is "reward for consistently performing well" during Super Rugby and Currie Cup.
"I am excited about that," he said of the uncapped players in his squad for the BaaBaas game.
"We will work hard and make sure we get off to a good start on tour.
"It is really important to start well and I am really excited about the young talent.
"A lot of players are unlucky not to have made that [30-man] squad [to face the BaaBaas].
"The Final of the Currie Cup is not a benchmark for selection. It is about consistently performing.
"Certain players played well yesterday [in the Free State Cheetahs' 36-16 win over the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup Final] and others didn't play that well."
He added that a group of players are on standby and they could get an opportunity if there are injuries.
Coetzee also said the Boks will 'play to win' at Wembley.
"Just because it is not a Test, against the BaaBaas, we are not going there to entertain.
"That is the BaaBaas' philosophy.
"We will play to lay the basis to get a successful tour off the ground.
"The BaaBaas will test us but we have to make sure we stick to our processes of how to win test match rugby."
South Africa began their preparations in Johannesburg on Sunday as they assembled for a training camp ahead of their planned departure for London on Friday.
South African squad for the encounter with the Barbarians: Lourens Adriaanse, Nizaam Carr, Uzair Cassiem, Ruan Combrinck, Damian de Allende, Lodewyk de Jager, Francois de Klerk, Jean-Luc du Preez, Thomas du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Lizo Gqoboka, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Patrick Lambie, Malcolm Marx, Mbongeni Mbonambi, Teboho Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Rudy Paige, Sergeal Petersen, Tian Schoeman, Rudolph Snyman, Roelof Smit, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Jamba Ulengo, Piet van Zyl, Francois Venter.