Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer reiterated that the national team will keep the interests of the Vodacom Super Rugby franchises firmly in mind when it comes to injured players and player management as the training squad had their first field session on Monday afternoon.
A total of 44 players were invited to the camp and got together in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon, but more than half of them did not take full part in Monday’s field session at St Peter’s College.
This includes 19 players who did not train at all and five who took part only in some of the training drills.
“Our commitment has always been not to risk any injured players at our training camps and looking at the history of these camps, we’ve not had any players pick up injuries at our camps,” said Meyer.
“We receive weekly feedback on all players from the franchise medical teams and we’ve always enjoyed a very good working relationship with them.
“We knew from the outset that a large number of players would not be able to train, which is why we decided to invite a big group to this camp, as well as our camp later this month in Cape Town.
“Injuries are part of the game and one of our main aims in the last few years has been to create depth in every position. By inviting a decent number of players, we’re exposing them to the Springbok culture and ethos.”
Meyer said that he was very happy with the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the players at the camp.
“I truly believe there is not one player we invited to these camps who is not good enough to play for South Africa,” added the Springbok coach.
“In putting together this squad, we took into consideration the situation with injured players, but also rewarded Vodacom Super Rugby form. Camps such as these also gives us an opportunity to work with players, to tell them where they stand and where they can improve to become even better players.
“It’s wonderful to see how excited all the players, old and new, are to be here – and being back in the Bok fold also made me realise what a massive honour and privilege it is to represent my country in this way.
“They will challenge each other for places in the squads for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship and the Rugby World Cup and will make it very difficult to make final selections, but that is what we’d like to see.”
The following players took little or no part in training: Jesse Kriel, Pat Lambie, Jean de Villiers, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jan Serfontein, Coenie Oosthuisen, Oupa Mohoje, Willie le Roux, Rudy Paige, Heinrich Brüssow, Kobus van Wyk, Robbie Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Dean Greyling, Elton Jantjies, Juan de Jongh, Ruan Botha, Lionel Mapoe, Arno Botha, Bjorn Basson, Schalk Burger, Trevor Nyakane, Francois Venter.
* Meanwhile, the Springboks will return to Buenos Aires for the first time in 10 years when they face Argentina in a special round of matches in preparation for the Rugby World Cup following the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, SANZAR announced on Monday.
With the 2015 Rugby World Cup looming large, the four Castle Lager Rugby Championship teams will play an additional round of international matches on Saturday, August 15 following the conclusion of the competition a week earlier.
This round will see New Zealand host Australia at Eden Park in Auckland, while the Springboks will battle it out with Argentina in Buenos Aires – a venue they last visited in 2005 when they defeated Argentina 34-23. The venue and time of the Springboks’ match will be announced in due course.
The Boks will begin their Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign against Australia at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, July 18 at 12h05 before returning to South Africa for back-to-back Tests against New Zealand and Argentina, respectively, in Johannesburg on July 25 and Durban on August 8 at 17h05.