Nine uncapped players were included in the Springbok squad of 32 for the Castle Incoming Tour against England, named on Saturday in Pretoria by SARU CEO Jurie Roux and Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
The nine uncapped players are flanks Marcell Coetzee and Jacques Potgieter, locks Eben Etzebeth, Juandré Kruger and Franco van der Merwe, flyhalf Elton Jantjies, wing or centre JJ Engelbrecht, prop Coenie Oosthuizen and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak.
Jantjies and Oosthuizen toured with the Springboks at the end of the 2010 season and in the 2011 Castle Tri-Nations. Van der Merwe and Vermaak have previously played for the Emerging Springboks.
Meyer and the national selectors, Peter Jooste and Ian McIntosh, were unanimous when it came to finalising the squad. They have also recalled 15 members of the Rugby World Cup 2011 squad, while nine Rugby World Cup winners from 2007 remain in the squad.
The most experienced player in the squad is South Africa’s foremost test try scorer Bryan Habana, with 74 caps. Six more players have played in excess of 40 tests for South Africa.
“We were always looking to start the season with an experienced squad to face England, but injuries to certain players and the non-availability of others have made it difficult,” said Meyer.
“What we‘ve lost in experience, we’ve made up in passion and desire to play for the Springboks.
“We have put together a squad with a nice balance between a number of veterans and players with less experience as we start to build for the rest of the season.
“Working with these players during our four Planning Camps this season has been great and really made a very difficult selection process a bit easier. There were a few unlucky players that didn’t make it and they will get opportunities in future as long as they keep on knocking on the door.
“The nine uncapped players have all put up their hands during Vodacom Super Rugby this year and we know they have what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
“We realise that it is impossible to please everyone when it comes to selecting squads like these, but we would really like to see the entire country stand behind us as we take on England.”
Furthermore, six promising players have been added to the Springbok squad for the next three weeks. They are not eligible for selection but will train with the squad in Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
The six up-and-coming players are Siya Kolisi (flank), Arno Botha (No 8), Frans Malherbe (prop), CJ Stander (loose forward), Francois Venter (centre) and Piet van Zyl (scrumhalf).
Meyer said: “We feel that these players have what it takes to play for the Springboks and they were close to selection in the final squad. However, these three weeks provide the ideal opportunity to work with them, show them what the Springbok culture is all about and hopefully put them on the right track to play for South Africa sooner rather than later. By doing this now, we will reap the dividends going forward.
“We also rate a number of great players in the South African Under-20 squad, but they were not considered at this stage due to the fact that they are playing in a very important Junior World Championship.”
SPRINGBOK SQUAD (number of caps in brackets)
Willem Alberts (The Sharks, 9)
Bjorn Basson (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 6)
Marcell Coetzee (The Sharks, 0)
Keegan Daniel (The Sharks, 1)
Jean de Villiers (DHL Western Province, 72)
Bismarck du Plessis (The Sharks, 42)
Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks, 30)
JJ Engelbrecht (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 0)
Eben Etzebeth (DHL Western Province, 0)
Bryan Habana (DHL Western Province, 74)
Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 15)
Elton Jantjies (MTN Golden Lions, 0)
Ryan Kankowski (The Sharks, 19)
Zane Kirchner (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 14)
Juandré Kruger (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 0)
Werner Kruger (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 2)
Patrick Lambie (The Sharks, 11)
Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks, 32)
Lwazi Mvovo (The Sharks, 4)
Wynand Olivier (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 34)
Coenie Oosthuizen (Toyota FS Cheetahs, 0)
Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, Ireland, 51)
JP Pietersen (The Sharks, 42)
Jacques Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 0)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 21)
Pierre Spies (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 47)
Frans Steyn (The Sharks, 47)
Morné Steyn (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 34)
Adriaan Strauss (Toyota FS Cheetahs, 9)
Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 11)
Franco van der Merwe (MTN Golden Lions, 0)
Jano Vermaak (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 0)