Eleven DHL Stormers called up to Bok alignment camp

PUBLISHED: February 19, 2024

There are 11 DHL Stormers in a group of 43 players that will assemble in Cape Town in the first week of March for a Springbok in-person coaches’ strategic session and two-day alignment camp.

Forwards Neethling Fouche, Andre-Hugo Venter, Frans Malherbe, Salmaan Moerat, Evan Roos and Ruben van Heerden will be joined by DHL Stormers backs Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Herschel Jantjies, Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse as the Springboks get the wheels in motion for the 2024 season.

The coaching team, led by double Rugby World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus, will assemble in the Mother City on Monday 4 March, for two days where they will plot their plans for the 2024 season – which includes the Castle Lager Incoming Series and Castle Lager Rugby Championship. These competitions will feature entertaining Test series against Ireland and New Zealand respectively.

The group of 43 include 39 domestic players and four Japan-based players, who are currently injured and doing their rehabilitation in South Africa. The group will gather on Tuesday 5 March for two days of boardroom sessions to get everyone up to speed on the way forward this season.

Nineteen individuals were members of the 2023 Rugby World Cup-winning team, including Ox Nche, Malherbe (both props), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Marco van Staden (flanker) and Canan Moodie (utility back).

A handful of players, meanwhile, will get to work with some of the coaching staff again after either being involved in the set-up before at alignment camp or SA ‘A’ level, including Sanele Nohamba, Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Hartzenberg, while others will get their first taste of Springbok rugby including Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Quan Horn, Fouche and Marnus van der Merwe, among others.

To Erasmus’ delight 27 players in the group have Test caps, meaning there will be a healthy mix of youth and experience.

Commenting on the coaches’ strategic session, Erasmus said: “We are delighted that the new coaching team will meet in person for the first time and that we will have the opportunity to present solid structures and the Springbok culture and way of doing things to the invited players.

“The focus at this camp will be to get everyone on the same page for the 2024 season and we believe this will lay a good foundation for us looking forward.

“Jerry (Flannery) and Tony (Brown) are going to play vital roles in this coaching team, and we are excited to see them along with our other coaching staff put proper steps into action as we prepare for the challenging season ahead.”

Of the group of players invited to the camp, Erasmus said: “This bunch of players includes several individuals who have been part of our structures in the last six years, and their experience and familiarity with the way we do things at the Springboks, will be invaluable in guiding the younger players, while others have been exposed to it before by representing the SA ‘A’ team that faced Munster and the Bristol Bears in November 2022.

“There are also a few new players in the mix, who have proven their worth at provincial level and we are excited to see them receive this opportunity and get a real feel about what is expected of them at the highest level.”

This will mark the first of three alignment camps before the Springboks put the building blocks in place on the field for the international season, which includes two Tests against Ireland and the first international against Portugal in the Castle Lager Incoming Series in July.

The Castle Lager Rugby Championship, meanwhile, will see the world champions play back-to-back Tests against Australia away before successive Tests against New Zealand at home, and two Tests – one home and one away – against Argentina.

Players invited to Springbok alignment camp (in alphabetical order):

Forwards: Eben Etzebeth (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Neethling Fouche (DHL Stormers), Johan Grobbelaar (Vodacom Bulls), Celimpilo Gumede (Vodacom Bulls), Cameron Hanekom (Vodacom Bulls), Andre-Hugo Venter (DHL Stormers), Vincent Koch (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Elrigh Louw (Vodacom Bulls), Wilco Louw (Vodacom Bulls), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Bongi Mbonambi (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Salmaan Moerat (DHL Stormers), Ox Nche (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Bulls), Evan Roos (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Gerhard Steenekamp (Vodacom Bulls), Marnus van der Merwe (Toyota Cheetahs), Ruben van Heerden (DHL Stormers), Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls), Ruan Venter (Emirates Lions), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Vodacom Bulls).

Backs: Lukhanyo Am (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (DHL Stormers), Suleiman Hartzenberg (DHL Stormers), Jaden Hendrikse (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Jordan Hendrikse (Emirates Lions), Quan Horn (Emirates Lions), Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls), Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers), Makazole Mapimpi (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls), Sanele Nohamba (Emirates Lions), Morne van den Berg (Emirates Lions), Henco van Wyk (Emirates Lions), Grant Williams (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers).