Nine new caps in Bok squad
Johannesburg - The Springbok selectors have included nine new caps in the squad of 37 that will tour Europe in November.
The tour includes Test matches against France, Italy and Ireland as well as two midweek matches, against English Premiership teams Leicester and Saracens.
The touring squad also includes five players who have been recalled while the balance of 23 players is the bulk of the squad that won the 2009 Tri-Nations tournament.
The newcomers to the Springbok squad are Blue Bulls scrumhalf Heini Adams, Western Province centre Juan de Jongh, Sharks lock Alistair Hargreaves, Blue Bulls utility back Francois Hougaard, Cheetahs eighthman Ashley Johnson, Blue Bulls hooker Bandise Maku, Blue Bulls flank Dewald Potgieter, who captained the Emerging Springboks against the British & Irish Lions in June, Griquas flank Davon Raubenheimer and Griquas fullback Riaan Viljoen.
Those who have been recalled are Blue Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner and Cheetahs wing Jongi Nokwe, who both played in the third Test against the British & Irish Lions in July but were excluded from the Tri-Nations squad, Cheetahs centre Meyer Bosman, who was in the SA XV that faced Namibia in May and last played a Test in 2006, Lions fullback Earl Rose, who toured Europe in 2008 and also featured in the Namibia match, and Lions prop Heinke van der Merwe, who played one Test match in 2007.
Western Province lock Andries Bekker and Sharks wing JP Pietersen, who were injured during the Tri-Nations away leg, both return to the squad. The five players who are not included from the group of 28 that did duty during the Tri-Nations are Vodacom Cheetahs flank Juan Smith, who was not considered due to injury, Western Province scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, who was not considered, Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn, who are playing for clubs in Ireland and France respectively, and Sharks lock Johann Muller, who was called to replace the injured Bekker towards the end of the Tri-Nations away campaign.
Commenting on the selection, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said: “We will go on tour with a strong core of players who have reached great heights this season, but we are under no illusions about the challenges we face.
“We have three tough Test matches -- France beat the All Blacks in New Zealand earlier this year and are always tough opponents at home, Italy were competitive away from home against the All Blacks and the Wallabies, whilst Ireland are the reigning Six Nations champions.
“We do, however, have a fairly settled Test team that boasts a significant number of caps and is well experienced with some very cool heads. But, what we have achieved so far will have little bearing and we will be starting from scratch as we try to put the seal on a very successful season”.
De Villiers added that the nine newcomers to the squad had been recognized for their performances during the 2009 Absa Currie Cup.
“All of them put their hands up during the Currie Cup,” he said. “There are others who may consider themselves unlucky not to have made it but it’s an indication of our depth that we were forced to leave some very good players at home.
“We will use this tour to expose the new players to our team dynamic and culture as well as to allow them an opportunity to play at a higher level and perhaps even challenge for a place in the test 22”.
De Villiers said the five-match tour would also allow him the opportunity to assess various players, particularly at inside centre and fullback in the wake of the departure of Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn.
“There are a host of players who are capable of challenging for these two positions, but at the same time we will continue to reassess ourselves in all positions to ensure that we are strong in every aspect of the game,” de Villiers said.
The squad of 37 will assemble in Johannesburg on Monday, November 2, with the Springbok team for the midweek matches departing for the UK on Tuesday, November 3. The remaining players will remain in South Africa and depart for France on Tuesday, November 10.
Springbok touring squad: (Test caps in brackets)
John Smit – Sharks, Captain (90)
Victor Matfield - Blue Bulls, Vice-Captain (89)
Andries Bekker - Western Province (18)
Bakkies Botha - VBlue Bulls (63)
Heinrich Brüssow - VCheetahs (10)
Schalk Burger – Western Province (53)
Bismarck du Plessis - Sharks (30)
Jannie du Plessis - Sharks (12)
+ Alistair Hargreaves - Sharks (-)
+ Ashley Johnson - Cheetahs (-)
Ryan Kankowski - Sharks (10)
+ Bandise Maku - Blue Bulls (-)
Tendai Mtawarira - Sharks (19)
+ Dewald Potgieter - Blue Bulls (-)
Chiliboy Ralepelle - Blue Bulls (8)
+ Davon Raubenheimer – Griquas (-)
Danie Rossouw - Blue Bulls (43)
Pierre Spies - Blue Bulls (28)
Gurthro Steenkamp - Blue Bulls (22)
* Heinke van der Merwe - Lions (1)
+Heini Adams – Blue Bulls (-)
* Meyer Bosman - Cheetahs (3)
+ Juan de Jongh - Western Province (-)
Fourie du Preez - Blue Bulls (52)
Jaque Fourie - Lions (51)
Bryan Habana - Blue Bulls (54)
+ Francois Hougaard - Blue Bulls (-)
Adi Jacobs - Sharks (28)
* Zane Kirchner - Blue Bulls (1)
Odwa Ndungane - Sharks (6)
* Jongi Nokwe - Cheetahs (4)
Wynand Olivier - Blue Bulls (24)
Ruan Pienaar - Sharks (35)
JP Pietersen - Sharks (30)
* Earl Rose - Lions (-)
Morne Steyn - Blue Bulls (9)
+ Riaan Viljoen – Griquas (-)
+ Denotes new cap
* Denotes recalled to squad
Springbok Tour fixtures:
November 6 vs Leicester at Welford Road - SA 21:45)
November 13 TEST vs France at Municipal Stadium, Toulouse - SA 21:45)
November 17 vs Saracens at Wembley Stadium - SA 21:45)
November 21 TEST vs Italy at Stadio Friuli, Udine - SA 16:00)
November 28 TEST vs Ireland at Croke Park, Dublin - SA 16:30)