Nine uncapped players, six of whom have not been part of the national set-up before, have been included in a 34-man Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series involving Italy, Samoa and Scotland.
The six newcomers are the GWK Griquas duo Lourens Adriaanse and Willie le Roux, Trevor Nyakane and Pieter ‘Lappies’ Labuschagne of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, and two members of last year’s Junior World Championship-winning SA Under-20 squad, Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (The Sharks).
The three other uncapped players in the squad are Siya Kolisi (DHL Western Province), Arno Botha and Jano Vermaak (both Vodacom Blue Bulls). Two players who only featured in one Test in 2012, Gio Aplon (DHL Western Province) and JJ Engelbrecht (Vodacom Blue Bulls), are recalled following very good performances this year.
DHL Western Province midfielder Jean de Villiers, the most experienced member of the squad with 84 Test caps retains the captaincy and is joined by five other DHL WP/Stormers players in the 34-man squad.
Players who were part of Springbok squads in 2012, but were not considered for selection due to injury are JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute, Frans Steyn, Johan Goosen, Duane Vermeulen, Pat Cilliers and Frans Malherbe (the latter three being WP/Stormers stars).
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the inclusion of the six newcomers was just reward for good performances in Vodacom Super Rugby this season. He also said he was happy to keep the core of the squad that did duty for South Africa in 2012.
“The Tests in June will be tough and we’ve been hit by a number of injuries, but I’m very happy with the squad we’ve selected,” said Meyer.
“It’s never easy selecting a squad such as this one, as there are always players who are unlucky to miss out, but there will always be an opportunity to reclaim your place, as Gio and JJ had shown this season.
“Despite not playing for one of the five big unions, Lourens and Willie have grabbed their opportunities when they got a chance to play Vodacom Super Rugby, while two of their team mates at the Toyota Cheetahs, Trevor and Lappies, have also done very well this year.
“It was also good to see Jan and Pieter-Steph make the step up from the junior levels. I’ve always rated them and they’ve shone this year for the Vodacom Bulls and The Sharks.
“To have 34 players available for this series will help a lot and I have a lot of appreciation to the leadership of SARU and the provincial CEOs for allowing us this number.”
The Springbok squad will assemble in Durban on Sunday. The first Test of the Castle Later Incoming Series is next Saturday at Growthpoint Kings Park against Italy.
The Springbok squad: Lourens Adriaanse, Willem Alberts, Gio Aplon, Bjorn Basson, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, JJ Engelbrecht, Eben Etzebeth, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Zane Kirchner, Siya Kolisi, Juandré Kruger, Pieter Labuschagne, Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira, Lwazi Mvovo, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Ruan Pienaar, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jan Serfontein, Pierre Spies, Morné Steyn, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Jano Vermaak.