Vodacom Western Province and Stormers centre Morgan Newman was a surprise inclusion when the national selectors confirmed the South African training squad that will face a Namibian Invitation XV in Windhoek on Friday 29 May.
The 23-strong group includes 17 capped Springboks and 6 uncapped players. The uncapped players are Sharks flank Jean Deysel, Sharks lock Steven Sykes, Cheetahs prop Wian du Preez, WP midfielder Newman, Lions scrumhalf Jano Vermaak and Lions flyhalf Earl Rose.
Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus regards Newman as a very promising centre and has included him in the squad for the recently completed Vodacom Super 14 campaign.
Vodacom Stormers captain Jean de Villiers, flank Schalk Burger, centre/flyhalf Peter Grant, scrumhalf Ricky Januarie and lock Andries Bekker are the other local players in the training squad.
Rose was in the Springbok squad at the end of last year but did not feature in the Tests, whilst du Preez toured England and Wales at the end of 2007 but did not play. Vermaak was in the 2007 Emerging SA squad at the IRB Nations Cup, whilst Newman featured for the Emerging side in 2007 and 2008.
Players not considered due to injury are Sharks flyhalf Ruan Pienaar and prop Deon Carstens. Lions centre Jaque Fourie was not considered as he is getting married on Saturday 30 May.
The Bulls players could not be considered due to their involvement in the Super 14 playoffs. Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said he was disappointed about Pienaar’s injury but that it was important for the player to focus on his recovery in advance of the British & Irish Lions tour.
“Ruan is expected to be out for about three weeks and we will closely monitor his progress,” said de Villiers. “I am hoping that he will be fit to play in the first Test against the Lions in Durban but we are fortunate in that we have adequate cover in the flyhalf position if it is required”.
De Villiers said that despite the absence of the Bulls players he was still able to assemble a strong squad. He added that the game against the Namibian XV would allow him to test systems and plays in preparation for the Lions Test series.
“Without the opportunity of a few warm-up games we must ensure that we get the most out of this match, regardless of the fact that some players are not in attendance. After this match we will assemble a Springbok squad that will have three weeks to prepare for the first Lions test and we have to maximise the time we have at our disposal,” de Villiers said.
The SA Training Squad will assemble in Pretoria on Monday 25 May and travel to Windhoek on Thursday 28 May. The Springbok squad for the Lions series will be named on Monday 1 June.
SA Training Squad: Andries Bekker, Heinrich Brüssow, Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers, Jean Deysel, Bismarck Du Plessis, Wian Du Preez, Peter Grant, Adi Jacobs, Ricky Januarie, Ryan Kankowski, Tendai Mtawarira, Johan Muller, Odwa Ndungane, Morgan Newman, Jongi Nokwe, JP Pietersen, Earl Rose, John Smit (capt), Juan Smith, Adriaan Strauss, Steven Sykes, Jano Vermaak.