New era for Bok rugby with 17 new caps

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus speaks to the media at the Cape Town International Airport on 25 April 2018.
Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus speaks to the media at the Cape Town International Airport on 25 April 2018.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Coach Rassie Erasmus unequivocally ushered in a new Springbok era by naming 17 uncapped players in a 43-man squad for Tests against Wales and England in June.

The squad consists of 24 forwards and 19 backs and the 25 players with Test experience has a combined total of 627 caps. A captain will only be named on Monday.

Whoever is asked to lead the team will become the 60th Springbok captain, as no player in the group has led the national team before.

Warren Whiteley and Eben Etzebeth, who led the Boks in 2017, are both injured and were not considered for the initial squad.

Other notable omissions were Bath flank Francois Louw and fullback Andries Coetzee, who was an ever-present in 2017. Bulls flank Roelof Smit and Saracens tighthead Vincent Koch could consider themselves unlucky.

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), Marco van Staden (looseforward), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (looseforward), Kwagga Smith (looseforward), 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).

“It’s good to see exciting young talent such as Aphiwe Dyantyi, Marco van Staden and RG Snyman, to name but a few, grab their opportunities for their franchises against the best of Australia and New Zealand,” 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.

“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.”

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 startingat Ellis Park 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 Newlands in Cape Town.

Squad:

Backs – Fullbacks: Willie le Roux, Warrick Gelant, Curwin Bosch. Wings: Aphiwe Dyantyi*, Makazola Mapimpi*, S’bu Nkosi*, Travis Ismaiel*. Centres: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen*, Frans Steyn. Flyhalves: Rob du Preez*, Elton Jantjies, Handré Pollard. Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk, Ivan van Zyl*, Cameron Wright*, Embrose Papier*. Looseforwards: Nizaam Carr, Jean-Luc du Preez, Daniel du Preez, Siya Kolisi, Oupa Mohoje, Sikhumbuzo Notshe*, Kwagga Smith*, Duane Vermeulen. Locks: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco Mostert, RG Snyman*, Jason Jenkins*, Marvin Orie*. Props: Thomas du Toit*, Steven Kitshoff, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche*. Hookers: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Akker van der Merwe*, Bismarck du Plessis, Bongi Mbonambi.

*Denotes uncapped players

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