Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber rewarded form in this year’s United Rugby Championship by including no less than eight uncapped players in an extended 43-man squad for the coming international season.
The uncapped players include prop Ntuthuko Mchunu, locks Ruan Nortje and Salmaan Moerat, loose forwards Evan Roos and Elrigh Louw, utility forward Deon Fourie, scrumhalf Grant Williams, and fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse.
A squad of 17 players gathered in Pretoria for the opening week of the team’s preparation camp last week, featuring a number of Sharks and Japanese-based players.
With the Bulls and Stormers having featured in the URC semifinals this weekend, Nienaber has called up 13 players from the two franchises, including fullback Warrick Gelant and loose forward Marcell Coetzee.
The squad also included centre Andre Esterhuizen, who like Gelant and Coetzee, last played for the Boks in 2019.
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 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 camp to continue his rehabilitation.
The Boks will kick off their 2022 season with three Tests against Wales in the Incoming Series on 2nd, 9th and 16th July respectively, before moving onto the Rugby Championship, where they will go 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.
Props: Thomas du Toit (Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Frans Malherbe ( Stormers), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Sharks) *, Ox Nche (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92).
Hookers: Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks).
Locks: Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Toulon), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers) *, Ruan Nortje (Bulls) *, Marvin Orie (Stormers).
Loose forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit (Verblitz), Marcell Coetzee (Bulls), Siya Kolisi (Sharks), Elrigh Louw (Bulls) *, Evan Roos (Stormers) *, Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers).
Utility forwards: Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse), Deon Fourie (Stormers) *, Franco Mostert (Honda Heat).
Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Grant Williams (Sharks) *.
Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Handre Pollard (Montpellier).
Centres: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Munster), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles).
Outside Backs: Aphelele Fassi (Sharks), Warrick Gelant (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), Willie le Roux (Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks).
Utility Backs: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls) *, Damian Willemse (Stormers).