There were 14 DHL Stormers players named across the two squads for the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
A raft of Springboks, Blitzboks and Junior Boks made the cut in two 25-man squads after an exciting live draft pick – the first of its kind in South African rugby history.
The two squads boast 13 members of the Rugby World Cup-winning squad from last year in Japan, as well as some exciting young players who will get to rub shoulders with established internationals for the eagerly awaited clash at DHL Newlands on Saturday at 17h05.
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, and Jacques Nienaber, the newly-appointed Springbok head coach, selected the two 25-man squads on Friday evening during a live draft draw at the SuperSport studios in Johannesburg.
Erasmus is the team commissioner for the Green squad, which will be coached by Mzwandile Stick, while Nienaber (team commissioner) and Deon Davids (coach) will be in charge of the Gold squad.
The 50 players who made the cut after the draft picks were selected from the initial 93 players that were unveiled last week. The two squads and management members will prepare their match day preparations separately from each other in their respective “bio-bubble environments”.
The players, all of whom are based in South Africa, were drafted and pooled into two squads of 25 each by the respective team commissioners and coaches during the live television broadcast.
“The draft picks exercise was a refreshing way to select the two squads for the game,” explained Erasmus.
“Myself, Jacques and the coaches thoroughly enjoyed the exercise, but the tension of picking squads on live television wasn’t good for the nerves – I want to thank SuperSport for their support in this project and I hope our fans enjoyed something new on the South African rugby landscape.”
Erasmus added that the Springboks’ brains trust grabbed the unique opportunity to cast the net very wide in order to compile the original list of 93, and then whittling it down to 50 on Friday evening.
The enlarged player group were identified during Vodacom Super Rugby and the Guinness PRO14 action earlier in the year, and last year’s Currie Cup, while the younger players on the list have been part of SA Rugby’s Elite Player Development (EPD) programme in the last couple of years.
A number of players who are currently injured were not considered for the match, including World Rugby and SA Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers, loose forward), as well as RWC-winner Sbu Nkosi (Cell C Sharks, wing), Aphelele Fassi (Cell C Sharks, fullback) and Lizo Gqoboka (Vodacom Bulls, prop).
Erasmus said the players were picked from a very dynamic draft list and he thanked the franchise teams for their collaboration during the entire identification, monitoring and drafting process.
In addition, 16 rising South African rugby talents, including four DHL Western Province players, will join the two squads for the training week.
The young players – drawn largely form the ranks of the Junior Springboks – will spend the week in camp with the two national selections before returning to their provinces to begin the inter-provincial Under-21 championships.
“This is a great opportunity for these youngsters to get a taste of the Springbok environment and equally an opportunity for the national coaches to get an insight into some of the top emerging talent in the country,” said Erasmus.
“There may even be an opportunity for one or two of them to get some match action if there is an injury or COVID-related issue during the week, but the main objective to continue the process of national alignment.”
The two Castle Lager Springbok Showdown draft squads are:
Springbok Green squad:
Props: Ox Nche*, Thomas du Toit**, Trevor Nyakane**, Luan de Bruin
Hookers: Bongi Mbonambi**, Schalk Erasmus
Locks: JD Schickerling, Hyron Andrews, Oupa Mohoje*
Looseforwards: Siya Kolisi**, Arno Botha8, Duane Vermeulen**, Junior Pokomela, Juarno Augustus
Scrumhalves: Sanele Nohamba, Embrose Papier*
Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies**, Manie Libbok
Centres: Frans Steyn**, Wandisile Simelane, Jeremy Ward
Outside backs: Seabelo Senatla, Yaw Penxe, Gianni Lombard, Malcolm Jaer
Springbok Gold squad:
Props: Steven Kitshoff**, Dylan Smith, Frans Malherbe**, Ruan Dreyer
Hookers: Scarra Ntubeni*, Dylan Richardson
Locks: Salmaan Moerat, Marvin Orie*, Jason Jenkins*
Loose forwards: Marco van Staden*, Nizaam Carr*, Sikhumbuzo Notshe*; Vincent Tshituka, James Venter
Scrumhalves: Herschel Jantjies**, Jaden Hendrikse
Flyhalves: Damian Willemse**, Curwin Bosch*
Centres: Rikus Pretorius, Lukhanyo Am**, Werner Kok, Manuel Rass
Outside backs: Sergeal Petersen, Rosko Specman, Warrick Gelant**
** denotes Springbok RWC squad members
*denotes capped Springbok Test players
Young Gun squads:
Green: Props – Nathan McBeth (Emirates Lions), Kudzwai Dube (Emirates Lions). Hooker – Morne Brandon (Emirates Lions). Lock JJ van der Mescht (Cell C Sharks). Back row: Evan Roos (Cell C Sharks), Pepsi Buthelezi (Cell C Sharks). Scrumhalf: Bernard van der Linde (Vodacom Blue Bulls). Centre: Mnombo Zwelindaba (DHL Western Province).
Gold: Props – Kwenso Blose (DHL Western Province), Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Emirates Lions). Hooker: Fez Mbatha (Cell C Sharks). Lock: Emile van Heerden (Cell C Sharks). Back row: Celimpilo Gumede (Cell C Sharks), Muller Uys (Vodacom Blue Bulls). Scrumhalf: Thomas Bursey (DHL Western Province). Flyhalf: Kade Wolhuter (DHL Western Province