Door open for Bok newcomers

2011-04-20 22:14
Duane Vermeulen (File)
Stephen Nell

Wellington -  Springbok coach Peter de Villiers on Wednesday offered Duane Vermeulen, Sarel Pretorius and Lionel Mapoe a potential avenue to South Africa's World Cup squad.

All three were included in a squad of 51 players for a national planning session in Cape Town to prepare for the global showpiece.

De Villiers is also expected to appoint John Smit as captain on 2 May, and to officially confirm that Western Province director of coaching Rassie Erasmus will be part of the management team.

While De Villiers picked all 23 contracted Boks making it clear that he will be head into the tournament with a lot of experience, he also rewarded the good form of Vermeulen and Pretorius at the Stormers and Cheetahs respectively.

"Duane is one of the unluckiest players in South Africa," the Bok coach said of the Stormers No 8.

"Unfortunately for him he plays in a position where we have a number of good players. Duane won't let a team down and has played well for two or three years now. We have to make him understand that he's not far from the Bok team."

Pretorius is one of five scrumhalves in the squad. De Villiers praised him on Wednesday, but similarly expressed concern about the Cheetahs No 9 being too individualistic.

"Sarel is really doing well for the Cheetahs, but there are shortcomings in his game. I need to speak to him and tell him what he needs to change if he wants to be part of our plans," said De Villiers.

"You can take players around you out of the game if you are too individualistic. But you can't argue that his form is good and his work-rate very high."

Mapoe has been in De Villiers's sights since the beginning of last year, but a tug-of-war between the Cheetahs and Sharks kept him off the field for an extended period. He ultimately joined the Lions.

"When Lionel was at the Cheetahs he had enough space and time on attack. Everybody will agree with me that he is not currently the same player as before the dispute over his services. However, we all know what he's capable of," said De Villiers.

Mapoe will at best provide depth for the Boks this year. Bryan Habana is still there and JP Pietersen is playing good rugby for the Sharks, while Gio Aplon, Bjorn Basson, Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane are all in the squad of 51.

De Villiers hopes to get all the players familiar with the Bok structures should they be needed this year.

"I don't have control over injuries and form. It's a squad for planning purposes and everybody will have an understanding of the team culture after 1 and 2 May," he said.

"If any of them come in as a new player, they will understand what everything is about."

South Africa kick off their Tri-Nations campaign on 23 July against Australia in Sydney, only two weeks after the Super Rugby final.

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