Brits handed Springboks recall
October 28, 2012
Saracens hooker Schalk Brits has been recalled by South Africa ahead of their end of year tour of Europe © Getty Images
Saracens hooker Schalk Brits has been recalled by South Africa ahead of their end of year tour of Europe.
The 31-year-old has not appeared for the Springboks since 2008 but he now looks set to add to his three caps after earning a promotion as a result of an injury to first-choice hooker Bismarck du Plessis.
Coach Heyneke Meyer's 31-man touring party includes five uncapped players - winger Raymond Rhule, scrum-half Jano Vermaak, lock Franco van der Merwe, wing/centre Lionel Mapoe and flanker Arno Botha - but there is no place for veteran winger Bryan Habana after he sustained a knee injury in Western Province's Currie Cup final victory over Natal Sharks on Saturday.
Of the five uncapped player, only the 19-year-old Rhule has not been part of a Springbok squad yet this year, with his inclusion coming on the back of the role he played in South Africa's triumph at the IRB Junior World Championship in Cape Town earlier this year and a string of strong performances for Free State in the Currie Cup.
Two Springboks who missed the entire Rugby Championship because of injury, winger JP Pietersen and hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, are also back in the squad. Brits is one of four players based overseas with Toulouse prop Gurthro Steenkamp, Ulster playmaker Ruan Pienaar and Bath flanker Francois Louw the others to get the nod.
Meyer's selection was hampered by an extensive injury list with Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis, Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker, Siya Kolisi, Jacques Potgieter, Pierre Spies, Johan Goosen, Frans Steyn and Habana all sidelined. Furthermore, Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brüssow are still out of action with long-term injuries.
"We've got a settled core of players that did the job during the England series and Rugby Championship and we decided to stick with them," said Meyer. "Obviously losing so many players to injury, the latest being Coenie, Tiaan, Andries, Jacques and Bryan during the Absa Currie Cup, makes it difficult, but this now provides opportunities for other players.
"Gurthrö and Schalk are experienced front rankers who have played for South Africa before and know the conditions in the Northern Hemisphere. This tour provides a good opportunity to assess them as we plan ahead. Arno, Lionel, Franco and Jano have all been part of our squad earlier in the season.
"Raymond put up his hand for the Junior Boks and the Cheetahs and I'm very excited to see what he can do. It's also great to have JP and Chiliboy back from injury as they bring a lot of experience to the squad."
Meyer said he expected three extremely difficult Tests against Ireland (November 10), Scotland (November 17) and England (November 24): "Although the Springboks won on their last visit to Dublin (in 2010), they lost three in a row before that," he said. "In 2010, we lost to Scotland in Edinburgh. They beat the Wallabies in Australia earlier in the year, so it won't be easy there. And in June we've experienced first-hand how difficult and opponent England are. They will be fired up at Twickenham and it will be a challenging Test to end the tour with.
"Our aim is to end the season on a positive note. We set ourselves high standards and we want to improve with every Test, but we have a team that is still gaining valuable experience as we strive to constantly be amongst the top sides in the world. We know we're not there yet, but we've laid a foundation in the first nine Tests this year and we will build on that.
"The Rugby World Cup in 2015 also takes place in England, so we will use this tour to see how our players adapt to the conditions as we look ahead to that very important tournament."
The Springbok squad will assemble in Cape Town on Wednesday and depart to the UK from Johannesburg on Saturday.
South Africa squad:
Willem Alberts, Arno Botha, Schalk Brits, Pat Cilliers, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Juandré Kruger, Pat Lambie, Francois Louw, Lionel Mapoe, Tendai Mtawarira, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Raymond Rhule, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Morné Steyn, Adriaan Strauss, Jaco Taute, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe, Franco van der Merwe, Jano Vermaak, Duane Vermeulen
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