Kotze and Zas called up to SA ‘A’ squad

PUBLISHED: November 4, 2022

The DHL Stormers duo of wing Leolin Zas and hooker JJ Kotze were called up to the South Africa ‘A’ squad on Friday along with Vodacom Bulls loose forward Elrigh Louw as injury replacements for Sbu Nkosi, Marco van Staden and Jan-Hendrik Wessels.

Zas and Kotze – both former Junior Springbok players – have had a strong presence for the DHL Stormers in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. They will travel from South Africa to Ireland on Saturday with the remainder of the squad for the team’s two-match tour.

Nkosi, Van Staden and Wessels all suffered injuries in the Vodacom Bulls’ Vodacom United Rugby Championship match last weekend and have been ruled out of the tour.

The travelling squad will be joined by SA ‘A’ head coach Mzwandile Stick and SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus as well as five players who are currently in Dublin with the Springboks as they wrap up their preparations for Saturday’s Test against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

“It is unfortunate for Sbu, Marco, and Jan-Hendrik that they have been ruled out of the tour and I am sure they are very disappointed, but injuries are part of the game,” said Stick.

“This has opened the door for Elrigh, Leolin and JJ to get an opportunity to show showcase their skills and I’m sure they’ll want to make the most of this opportunity.

“Elrigh, Marco and Sbu have all been in the national system in the last two seasons, and as coaches we know what we have in them, but their injuries have allowed JJ and Leolin to throw their names into the selection mix less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup, and we will never complain about that as national coaches as we attempt to cast out net as wide as possible with an eye on the World Cup.”

Erasmus added: “JJ is an exciting young player and Zas has performed well consistently at senior provincial level for a few seasons, so it will be great to see what they bring the squad.

“We are facing quality opposition in Munster and Bristol in front of sold-out crowds, so these are going to be tough tests for the players, and this is exactly the type of pressure we want to test them under as we consider our player resources going forward to the World Cup.”

Stick and Erasmus will name the five players that will join them on their trip to Cork on Sunday following Saturday’s Test against Ireland to allow them sufficient time to monitor any possible injuries following the match.

The SA ‘A’ team will face Munster on Thursday, 10 November, and Bristol a week later on 17 November, on their tour.