No Duane, Frans but surprises aplenty in Bok squad

rugby11 June 2022 15:40| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
article image
Marcel Coetzee © Getty Images

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber rewarded form in this year’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship by including no less than eight uncapped players in an extended 43-man squad for the coming international season, but there was no place for Bok hard man Duane Vermeulen.

There were call-ups for fan favourites - loose forwards Evan Roos and Elrigh Louw as well as young upstarts in utility back Kurt-Lee Arendse, lock Ruan Nortje and prop Nthuthuko Mchunu, while lock Salmaan Moerat, scrumhalf Grant Williams and veteran Deon Fourie also received a call-up.

Vermeulen, who played for Ulster against the DHL Stormers on Saturday, is notably absent from the names announced and no reason was given for his omission. Marcell Coetzee, who bravely led the Bulls to an epic win over Leinster in the URC semifinal in Dublin on Friday night, is in the squad.

There was also no place for two-time World Cup winner Frans Steyn, although his injury may be the reason his name was omitted from the squad. Harlequins midfielder Andre Esterhuizen, who was named the Rugby Players' Association's Players' Player of the year last month, also returns to the squad.

DHL Stormers fullback Warrick Gelant, who has been a stalwart for his side in their run in the URC this weekend also warranted a recall. Coetzee, Gelant and Esterhuizen all last played for the Boks in 2019.

The squad was named for the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Wales as well as the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in August and September and the tour to the Northern Hemisphere in November, which will likely include three SA A games.

In all, 13 players out of the 43 come from the two URC semifinalists, the Bulls and Stormers.

Nienaber also selected a strong core of test regulars in Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco Mostert, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Vincent Koch, Trevor Nyakane, Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies, Handre Pollard, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux and Malcolm Marx. The core of the side that beat the British and Irish Lions and which won the World Cup in Japan in 2019 is still there.

The remaining players are set to join the squad following their club and franchise commitments. Although not included in the squad, Johan Goosen (flyhalf) will remain with the Boks until the conclusion of the preparation camp to continue his rehabilitation.

A squad of 17 players gathered in Pretoria for the opening week of the team’s preparation camp last week, featuring a number of cell C Sharks and Japanese-based players.

“Building squad depth is one of the key areas for us, and it is great to see the number of young players who have put up their hands this season, and we are delighted to invite them to the national squad environment,” said Nienaber.

“It is also good to welcome back some of the experienced players who have been part of our structures for a few years now, and I’m confident they will slot back into set-up with ease.

“We obviously have to wait a little longer for some players to be released from their club commitments, but we are pleased to be able to announce the squad with exactly three weeks to go before our opening test against Wales.”

Nienaber added: “We now have a bigger training squad, which will allow us to do a lot more at our training sessions, but most importantly it will give us more time to work with these players as we prepare for a challenging international season.”

Looking forward to the second week of the team’s preparation camp, Nienaber said: “The players laid a solid foundation for us to build from last week, and we are looking forward to taking things up a notch next week.

“Every training session and gym session will count as we look to get our structures well in place for the season ahead and to meet the standards we have set for ourselves by the time the Castle Lager Incoming Series kicks off.”

The Boks will kick off their 2022 season with three tests against Wales in the Castle Lager Incoming Series on 2, 9 and 16 July respectively, before launching into the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, where they will line up against the All Blacks in back-to-back home tests, which will be followed by a tour to Australia and Argentina. They will then return home for their final test against the Pumas in Durban in September.

Springbok squad:

Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks)
Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers)
Vincent Koch (Saracens)
Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers)
Ntuthuko Mchunu (Cell C Sharks) *
Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks)
Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92)

Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux)
Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears)
Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks)

Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks)
Eben Etzebeth (Toulon)
Salmaan Moerat (DHL Stormers) *
Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Bulls) *
Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers)

Loose forwards:
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz)
Marcell Coetzee (Vodacom Bulls)
Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks)
Elrigh Louw (Vodacom Bulls) *
Evan Roos (DHL Stormers) *
Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo)
Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers)

Utility forwards:
Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse)
Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) *
Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)

Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks)
Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks)
Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers)
Cobus Reinach (Montpellier)
Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks) *

Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes)
Handre Pollard (Montpellier)

Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks)
Damian de Allende (Munster)
Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins)
Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles)

Outside Backs:
Aphelele Fassi (Cell C Sharks)
Warrick Gelant (DHL Stormers)
Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon)
Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz)
Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks)

Utility Backs:
Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) *
Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers)