The Springbok squad announced on Saturday indicates how Head Coach Jacques Nienaber intends to take on the touring British and Irish Lions team.
A baptism of fire
The can be no doubt that new Head Coach Jacques Nienaber is facing a baptism of fire. He has inherited a team that has not played together in 18 months and is literally assembled with players from around the world. He has two games against Georgia to fine-tune his team to take on the British and Irish Lions in a three-Test series. What he does have at his disposal is all but four of the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning team. He also has the significant and total support of Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus.
A few notable inclusions
A few younger, uncapped players include Joseph Dweba, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jasper Wiese, Sanele Nohamba, Wandisile Simelane, Yaw Penxe and Aphelele Fassi. Although he is a little older, Rosko Specman will be keen to show his Spec-magic at a higher level. Most of these players will face the Lions in the SA “A” team and indicates who is being looked at post the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. The Springbok squad announced will be reduced from 46 players to 32 after the SA “A” match against the British and Irish Lions.
The unlucky ones
The two stand-out names not included are Marcel Coetzee and Cornal Hendriks. Coetzee’s reputation speaks for itself. He is a standout performer at both Test and European level. Informed opinion is that he will be added to this Springbok squad announced if he makes it through the Bulls game against the Sharks next weekend. It beggars belief that Hendriks, the form inside centre in South Africa who has displayed phenomenal passing acumen as well as challenging the defensive line has not been selected. It is most likely that an unresolved legal dispute with SA Rugby has cost him his place.
What can be expected from this squad
A Springbok team will always feature a tough group of forwards. Their physicality and ability to grind down opposing teams can not be ignored and nothing will change there. Any side coached by Nienaber will be confident in their defensive abilities. He has yet to show his hand in team selection, but the addition of younger, exciting runners could indicate a continuation of the more expansive game that was surprisingly used in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, which was expected to be a kick-fest. With the expansive game that Gatland appears to be planning, the counter-attack could also be on the cards.
There are many uncertainties around this tour, but that only adds to the intrigue and excitement. Will the Springboks be under-cooked or does the combination of Nienaber and Erasmus have their next version of “The Move” planned?
Springbok squad announced:
Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nché, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen
Joseph Dweba, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni
Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman
Dan du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden,Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese
Jean-Luc du Preez (Sale Sharks, Rynhardt Elstadt
Faf de Klerk, Herschel Jantjies, Sanele Nohamba, Cobus Reinach
Elton Jantjies, Handré Pollard, Morné Steyn
Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Wandisile Simelane, Frans Steyn
Aphelele Fassi, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Yaw Penxe, Rosko Specman, Damian Willemse
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