Young guns drafted in by Springboks
April 9, 2013
2012 IRB Junior Player of the Year Jan Serfontein has done enough to earn a place in the latest Boks training squad © Getty Images
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has named his first training squad of the year ahead of the Springboks' Test clashes with Italy and Scotland in June.
A 36-man party - made up of many familiar faces but also including South Africa Under 20 graduates Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jan Serfontein - will gather in Cape Town this weekend for the first of two scheduled camps before the start of the quadrangular tournament that also features Samoa.
Stormers winger Gio Aplo and Cheetahs flanker Heinrich Brussow and winger Willie le Roux are among the notable absentees while Stormers lock Andries Bekker, who will play club rugby in Japan at the completion of the Super Rugby season and injured Stormers fullback Jaco Taute were not considered. Three other overseas-bound Springboks, Stormers winger Bryan Habana, Bulls fly-half Morné Steyn and lock Juandré Kruger, are available to play for South Africa and were invited.
"With minimal time to prepare for the series involving Italy, Scotland and Samoa, we've approached the franchises, in line with the IRB Regulations, to ask for their assistance with these two camps," said Meyer. "It's important to keep continuity and it was very difficult to select only 36 players, as there are many more that are currently playing great rugby.
"There have been a number of new faces that have put up their hands this year, such as Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jan Serfontein and Robert Ebersohn, while we also have a high number of players out with injuries, but who will be available for the tests in June.
"This group is by no means a final one for the June tests and could still change in the coming months. There are other players that impressed me in the last couple of weeks and if they continue to keep up their form I will look at them for the second camp."
Meyer and his assistant coaches have been travelling across South Africa since the start of the season, visiting franchises and sharing information with the franchise coaches and senior players. "Last year we didn't have any time to sit with coaches at the various franchises and share ideas," said Meyer.
"They work with our top players on a daily basis and know them best, which makes their thoughts and insights very important to the national cause. I've been very well received and appreciated the time they gave me and the rest of the coaching team. I've learnt a lot from all of the franchises and hopefully we added some value to them as well.""
Meyer's visit to the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth was postponed on their request and will happen as soon as possible after their return from Australia. The Kings return from their Australasian tour this weekend and were not considered for this camp, but will be in contention for the second planned training camp, at the end of May in Durban.
South Africa training squad:
Forwards: Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pat Cilliers, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Juandré Kruger, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Arno Botha, Duane Vermeulen, Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski.
Backs: Jano Vermaak, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Morné Steyn, Elton Jantjies, Jean de Villiers, Frans Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Jan Serfontein, Robert Ebersohn, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Raymond Rhule, JP Pietersen, Bjorn Basson, Zane Kirchner.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'