De Villiers brings back big guns
August 5, 2011
Matfield is back in the Boks squad for the Tri-Nations home leg © Getty Images
Springboks coach Peter de Villiers has recalled many of his stellar names for the home leg of the Tri-Nations series.
Well-known players such as Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana sat out the away leg of the Tri-Nations due to injury. However, the true nature of the injured "Rustenberg 21" has proved to be a controversial subject. With the World Cup around the corner, de Villiers opted to put 21 of his players through a rehabilitation camp in Rustenberg rather than asking them to travel with the Boks for their ties against Australia and New Zealand. And this decision drew criticism from various facets of the game, including former Boks coach Jake White.
And following two defeats on the road, de Villiers has upped the intensity ahead of the World Cup by recalling 15 players to the 24-man squad. The group - captained by John Smit - includes nine players who took to the road with the Springboks with the carrot of a place on the plane in de Villiers' final 30-man squad for the World Cup on offer.
Alongside the returning Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Habana and Fourie du Preez, Burger (hand), Juan Smith (Achilles) and Willem Alberts (shoulder) will be a part of the squad but will miss the Australia test at Kings Park on August 13. Question marks still hang over the head of flanker Heinrich Brussow - who last played for the Boks in 2009 - with the openside staying with his club side, the Free State Cheetahs, before having the chance to potentially line up against New Zealand on August 20 in Port Elizabeth.
"We still have a number of injury concerns but the majority of the players who were in rehabilitation have recovered well and are now available for selection," De Villiers said.
"It's very satisfying to see that Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha have now largely overcome their injuries but they still require management as we have a shortage of fit locks at the moment.
"We also have injury problems among the loose-forwards but I am hopeful that all of the four who are not currently in the playing squad will be ready for selection by the time of the World Cup."
South Africa squad:
Forwards: Pierre Spies, Jean Deysel, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield Gerhard Mostert, John Smit (captain), Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Gurthrö Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde
Backs: Gio Aplon, Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Morne Steyn, Butch James, Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard.
Players not considered for selection due to injury were: Schalk Burger (hand), Juan Smith (Achilles), Andries Bekker (ankle), Willem Alberts (shoulder), Johann Muller (hamstring) and Duane Vermeulen (knee).
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