Ntubeni cracks Bok nod

2013-10-28 16:45
Scarra Ntubeni (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Siyabonga "Scarra" Ntubeni is one of four uncapped players who will join three stalwarts of the Rugby World Cup winning squad of 2007, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie and Bakkies Botha, in 32-man Springbok squad for the forthcoming outgoing tour to Wales, Scotland and France.

It will be Botha and Fourie’s first involvement with the Springboks since the previous Rugby World Cup, in 2011 in New Zealand, while Pietersen is back in the squad for the first time this year.

For the 22-year-old Ntubeni, this tour will be his first involvement with the Springboks.

The other three uncapped players in the touring party, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Louis Schreuder, have been part of the national squad previously.

Gio Aplon, who was part of the squad in June, and Johan Goosen, who recently returned after seven months out injured, were recalled to the team.

"Scarra’s inclusion, like that of Gio, is also just-reward for continuous great form," said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

"He’s still young and will learn a lot from our two front-line hookers, who both rate amongst the best in the world, on this tour.

"I want to expose him to this environment and the Springbok ethos and I’m very excited to work with him.

"It will be great to have Bakkies, Jaque and JP in the squad – all of them are really excited to play for the Springboks again, they have heaps of experience and are world-class players.

"Pieter-Steph missed a large part of the season because of injury but has been exceptional since his return to the playing field last month, while we’ve always rated Frans very highly and look forward to working with him again.

"And Louis has always been on our radar – he is only 23, fits in with the way we want to play and was impressive when he worked with us in June.

"Since then he’s established himself as first-choice at Western Province, starting in nine of their 12 Currie Cup matches, and I believe he will learn a lot on this tour, improving even more.”

Meyer said the Springboks would like to build on their performances during the Rugby Championship in the Tests against Wales (9 November in Cardiff), Scotland (17 November in Edinburgh) and France (23 November in Paris).

"We’ll play in conditions we’ve not yet encountered this year, but we want to keep our positive mind-set on the field and hopefully keep on scoring tries," said Meyer.

"We’re up for the challenge.

"I know the players are keen to finish 2013 off on a high.

"The Welsh have won the Six Nations the last two seasons.

"It’s our first Test against them since the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and they will be fired up at the Millennium Stadium.

"This year Scotland finished third in the Six Nations and in our two Tests against them in the last two seasons, they have been a tough nut to crack.

"We’re not expecting anything different at Murrayfield this year.

"We finish off against France at the Stade de France, where the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007.

"But we’ve not beaten Les Bleus in France since 1997 and will have to be sharp and focused for this last Test of a challenging season.”

Injuries to Arno Botha, Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard and Jaco Taute meant they were not considered for selection.

Springbok squad to tour Wales, Scotland and France:

Forwards (18):
Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Scarra Ntubeni, Gurthro Steenkamp, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen

Backs (14):

Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (captain), Fourie du Preez, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Ruan Pienaar, Jan Serfontein, Morne Steyn, Johan Goosen, Louis Schreuder


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