Blitzboks set to answer Bok call after the Rio Olympic Games
The coming month could be a busy period for Blitzbok players such as Juan de Jongh‚ Cheslin Kolbe and Seabelo Senatla.
The trio have the small matter of trying to win a gold medal in the Rugby Sevens at the Rio Olympics in the coming 10 days and after that they could all be parachuted in to join the Springboks as they prepare for the Rugby Championship.
Bok coach Allister Coetzee on Monday indicated that there would be call-ups for some players from the shorter version of the game. But the Bok coach declined to reveal the names.
“You can speculate all you like but I will say that I am looking at sevens players for the Rugby Championship‚” Coetzee said.
“The All Blacks did it with Sonny Bill Williams [he was named in their squad for the Rugby Championships on Monday even though he is in Rio with the NZ Sevens team] and we might do similar.
“I will name a 31-man squad once I have communicated with the Lions about possible injuries and so on.”
The Lions meet the Hurricanes in the 2016 Super Rugby final on Saturday.
The Blitzboks start their Rio campaign on August 9 and will be finished by August 12.
The Boks’ first assignment in the Rugby Championships is against Argentina in Nelspruit on August 20.
Senatla‚ who has scored 157 tries in 144 matches for the Blitzboks in the World Sevens Series would come into serious consideration‚ especially as Coetzee confirmed that JP Pietersen would miss the first part of the Rugby Championship.
Senatla told the UK edition of Rugby World magazine that he was hoping to get a call from Coetzee.
“I’m comfortable with my decision to put my fifteens ambitions on hold for the moment and I’m happy it’s been the right decision‚” Senatla said.
“Playing fifteens for the Springboks has always been my dream since I took up rugby seriously and it still is‚ but when I heard that sevens was going to be part of the Olympics my vision changed.
“I’m still a contracted sevens Bok until the end of the year and the plan after the Olympics is to return to fifteens and focus on that.
"But if Bok coach Allister Coetzee calls me up for the Rugby Championship after Rio‚ of course I’d love to play. It might be too soon but I would jump at it.”
The current 19 Bok players at a training camp in Stellenbosch‚ does not include a single fullback specialist after Coetzee omitted Willie le Roux‚ which suggests that Kolbe is part of the Springboks’ planning.
And De Jongh would add a huge amount of experience and leadership to the midfield where Damian de Allende with 16 Tests caps is the most experienced player.
In fact‚ only flyhalf Pat Lambie with 51 caps‚ currently has more Test experience than De Allende in the entire Bok backline.
Coetzee might also surprise by calling up scrumhalf Francois Hougaard.
The former Bulls player is in Rio but not as an official member of the Blitzbok team.
He has travelled as a reserve and will stay outside the village unless he is called in due to injury to a teammate.
Hougaard recently started playing for the Worcester Warriors in the English Premiership and was one of the club’s stars during the latter part of their campaign.
With inexperienced halfbacks Rudy Paige and Faf de Klerk the only serious contenders for the Bok No 9 jersey at this stage‚ Hougaard’s inclusion would make sense.