Springboks head coach Allister Coetzee has named a 31 man playing squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship which starts later this month.
Coetzee has included uncapped Malcolm Marx and recalled Oupa Mohoje, Vincent Koch, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard, Bryan Habana and Johan Goosen, in a squad of 31 players for the opening two matches of the 2016 Rugby Championship against Argentina.
Overall, seven changes have been made to the squad that did duty against Ireland in the Incoming Test Series in June. Injured players not considered for selection are Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jan Serfontein, Pat Lambie, Handré Pollard, Cobus Reinach and Siya Kolisi.
The Springbok squad will assemble in stages from tomorrow (Sunday, 7 August) in Johannesburg. The nine Lions players who featured in the Super Rugby Final earlier on Saturday will join on Wednesday with the six overseas-based players and two Olympians due to join on Sunday, 14 August.
The remaining squad members assemble tomorrow for a week’s preparations before the full squad of 31 players move camp to Nelspruit (14 August) to continue their preparations for the first Test against Argentina, on 20 August in the Mbombela Stadium.
Coetzee was excited to start preparations for the Rugby Championship and to work with the new players in the 31-man Bok squad.
“I’m excited to get Malcolm Marx involved with the Boks on the back of a very strong Super Rugby season,” said Coetzee.
“It’s also great to welcome back Oupa Mohoje and Vincent Koch to the Boks – both of them have worked incredibly hard and played very well recently.
“Johan Goosen has been in outstanding form for his club in France and gives us a number of options in the backline with his versatility, while Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh and Bryan Habana were previously not available because of Springbok Sevens commitments.
“We are fortunate to welcome back an experienced player such as Bryan, who will be able to provide great guidance to our young backs, while Juan and Francois also bring vast experience with them.”
The Bok coach explained the decision not to select the experienced winger JP Pietersen and Willie le Roux: “JP and I recently held discussions and I have decided to give him a much-needed break because he has played a lot of rugby the past three years. Although he has joined English club Leicester, he will still be available for the Springboks. The same applies to Willie, who has just signed with Wasps.
“The other players who were part of the squad in June but have missed out on selection, will continue to be part of the process going forward. We have to build depth because this is a long haul and a tough competition, and they are not out of our plans. It is important that a player such as Scarra Ntubeni, for example, gets playing time in the Currie Cup with his provincial team.
“Losing Pat and Frans to injury is a huge blow as both of them are part of our leadership group. However, Oupa also brings leadership to the squad having captained the SA ‘A’ side earlier year against the England Saxons and also leading the Cheetahs towards the end of their Super Rugby campaign,” added Coetzee.
“We will use our experience and learnings from the Ireland series as the stepping stone for the Rugby Championship and keep on growing our depth in our squad and improve on our overall game.”
The selection of prop Trevor Nyakane is subject to medical clearance.
Meanwhile, Coetzee has decided that Chean Roux will take charge of the Bok defensive coaching duties. Roux, who previously assisted the Boks as part of the Mobi Unit on refereeing and technical aspects, fills the vacancy left by Jacques Nienaber who recently left the Mobi Unit and SA Rugby to take up a post at Irish club Munster.
The Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship is:
1. Ruan Combrinck Wing Lions 2 caps
2. Damian de Allende Centre Stormers 16 caps
3. Lood de Jager Lock Cheetahs 20 caps
4. Juan de Jongh Centre Stormers 14 caps
5. Faf de Klerk Scrumhalf Lions 3 caps
6. Pieter-Steph du Toit Lock Stormers 11 caps
7. Eben Etzebeth Lock Stormers 47 caps
8. Johan Goosen Utility Back Racing Metro (France) 6 caps
9. Bryan Habana Wing Toulon (France) 117 caps
10. Francois Hougaard Utility Back Worcester (England) 35 caps
11. Elton Jantjies Flyhalf Lions 5 caps
12. Steven Kitshoff Prop Bordeaux (France) 1 cap
13. Vincent Koch Prop Stormers/Steval Pumas 2 caps
14. Jaco Kriel Flank Lions 1 cap
15. Jesse Kriel Centre Bulls 12 caps
16. Francois Louw Flank Bath (England) 46 caps
17. Lionel Mapoe Centre Lions 4 caps
18. Malcolm Marx Hooker Lions 0 caps
19. Bongi Mbonambi Hooker Stormers 1 cap
20. Teboho Mohoje Flank Cheetahs 8 caps
21. Franco Mostert Lock Lions 2 caps
22. Tendai Mtawarira Prop Cell C Sharks 78 caps
23. Lwazi Mvovo Wing Cell C Sharks 17 caps
24. Sikhumbuzo Notshe Flank Stormers 0 caps
25. *Trevor Nyakane Prop Bulls 25 caps
26. Rudy Paige Scrumhalf Bulls 3 caps
27. Julian Redelinghuys Prop Lions 5 caps
28. Morne Steyn Flyhalf Stade Francais (France) 61 caps
29. Adriaan Strauss (captain) Hooker Bulls 57 caps
30. Duane Vermeulen No 8 Toulon (France) 37 caps
31. Warren Whiteley No 8 Lions 6 caps
*Subject to medical clearance