Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will step up preparations for the forthcoming international season when the first of three alignment camps will be hosted from April 1-4 in Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg.
The second camp is scheduled to run from April 8-11, also in Vanderbijlpark, while Durban will host the third assessment camp from April 22-25.
Eleven Bulls players will meet up with Erasmus, his assistant coaches and the rest of the Springbok management for the first of three sessions, where the focus will be on aspects such as on-field alignment, strength and conditioning, medicals and rugby fundamentals.
Erasmus explained that the camps were planned with both the Springbok preparations and the local teams' Super Rugby commitments in mind.
"As much as we don’t want to disrupt the weekly preparations of our Super Rugby teams it is equally important that we continue with preparations of the Springboks in the background," said Erasmus.
"The Bulls have a bye on the weekend of April 7, the Stormers and Lions are not involved the following weekend (April 14) while the Sharks are not action on April 28, allowing us the opportunity to assemble in three groups.
"We will be starting as a new group and it is therefore also very important that the Springbok coaches meet, engage and strategise with as many players as possible we have in mind for the forthcoming Tests against Wales and England."
According to Erasmus, his coaching staff are working closely with the local Super Rugby franchises in the build-up to the international season.
"As part of our constant engagement with the Super Rugby teams, our assistant coaches have been visiting them to help build a strong relationship and also to get a better understanding of how they prepare their teams," he said.
"The Pro14 season is nearing its end and we plan to spend similar time in future with the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs."
The Springboks start their international commitments with a historical clash against Wales in Washington DC on Saturday, June 2. They will then return to South Africa to play England in three Tests on consecutive weekends.
Ellis Park in Johannesburg will host the series opener on June 9, the second Test takes place on June 16 in Bloemfontein, and the final match in the series will be contested a week later at Newlands in Cape Town.
The following Bulls players will attend the first national alignment camp:
Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Trevor Nyakane (prop), RG Snyman (lock), Jason Jenkins (lock), Lood de Jager (lock), Roelof Smit (loose forward)
Embrose Papier (scrumhalf), Handré Pollard (flyhalf), Jesse Kriel (centre), Travis Ismaiel (wing), Warrick Gelant (fullback)