Springboks

Du Toit, Vermeulen may lead Boks in June Tests

2018-05-28 06:41
Duane Vermeulen (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus could name TWO captains on Monday for the June Tests - Pieter-Steph du Toit for a one-off clash against Wales and Duane Vermeulen for a three-match series with England.

The Springboks face Wales in Washington on June 2 followed by internationals against England in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town on consecutive Saturdays from June 9.

Erasmus is set to name a captain or captains during a press conference in Johannesburg for his first matches in charge since the unsuccessful two-year reign of Allister Coetzee ended.

Vermeulen is a 39-cap No 8 who has just quit French club Toulon and made his presence felt last year when belatedly called up for Tests in France and Italy, both of which South Africa won.

Former South African Rugby Player of the Year Du Toit can play lock or flank and has starred in Super Rugby this year for a struggling Stormers side.

The 32-cap Springbok could be the skipper against Wales because Vermeulen is not available for the opening international of the season.

Another couple of Springboks named in a 43-man squad this weekend, Handre Pollard and Siya Kolisi, are the local media favourites to fill a role that became vacant due to injuries.

First choice and No 8 Warren Whiteley has not recovered from a knee injury sustained two months ago after missing much of the last season owing to a complicated groin problem.

His stand-in, lock Eben Etzebeth, has not played since being hurt last November in an away loss to Wales, the last Test played by South Africa.

A SA Rugby insider told AFP that Du Toit and Vermeulen may get the nod ahead of flyhalf Pollard and flank Kolisi.

It is understood that Erasmus wants Pollard and Kolisi to concentrate on their performances without the added burden of leading a country that has won the Rugby World Cup twice.

Pollard is set to replace Elton Jantjies as first-choice playmaker for the England series having impressed for the Bulls this year following several injury setbacks.

TV analyst Joel Stransky, whose extra-time drop-goal won the 1995 Rugby World Cup against the New Zealand All Blacks in Johannesburg, does not want Pollard selected as skipper.

"I hope they don't make him Bok captain for the simple reason that he already has enormous responsibility on his shoulders," he said in a Sunday Times interview.

"He is a natural leader and will still be one of the leaders regardless of his title, as the flyhalf has to be. I just don't think he needs the Bok captaincy right now."

Kolisi has shown patchy form in a Stormers team that lost their eighth Super Rugby match this season at the weekend.

After two largely disastrous seasons under Coetzee, sixth-ranked South Africa hope to beat Wales, who are one place lower, and then win the series against third-ranked England.

The Springbok squad for the June internationals (in order of name, position, franchise, Test caps, points):

Forwards (24)

Nizaam Carr (loose forward, Stormers, 5, 0)
Bismarck du Plessis (hooker, Montpellier, France, 79, 55 - 11t)
Dan du Preez (loose forward, Sharks, 3, 0) 
Jean-Luc du Preez (loose forward, Sharks, 10, 10 - 2t)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock, Stormers, 32, 20 - 4t)
Thomas du Toit (prop, Sharks, uncapped)
Jason Jenkins (lock, Bulls, uncapped)
Steven Kitshoff (prop, Stormers, 23, 5 - 1t)
Siya Kolisi (loose forward, Stormers, 28, 20 - 4t)
Wilco Louw (prop, Stormers, 5, 0)
Frans Malherbe (prop, Stormers, 17, 0)
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker, Stormers, 14, 5 - 1t)
Oupa Mohojé (loose forward, Cheetahs 18, 0)
Franco Mostert (lock, Lions, 18, 5 - 1t)
Tendai Mtawarira (prop, Sharks, 98, 10 - 2t)
Ox Nche (prop, Cheetahs, uncapped)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (loose forward, Stormers, uncapped)
Trevor Nyakane (prop, Bulls, 37, 5 - 1t)
Marvin Orie (lock, Lions, uncapped)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker, Sharks 23, 5 - 1t)
Kwagga Smith (loose forward, Lions, uncapped)
RG Snyman (lock, Bulls, uncapped)
Akker van der Merwe (hooker, Sharks, uncapped)
Duane Vermeulen (loose forward, Toulon, France, 39, 10 - 2t)

Backs (19)

Lukhanyo Am (centre, Sharks, 1, 0)
Curwin Bosch (utility back Sharks, 1, 0)
Damian de Allende (centre, Stormers, 28, 15 - 3t)
Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf, Sale Sharks, England, 11, 0)
Robert du Preez (flyhalf, Sharks, uncapped)
Aphiwe Dyantyi (wing, Lions, uncapped)
André Esterhuizen (centre, Sharks, uncapped)
Warrick Gelant (fullback, Bulls, 2, 5 - 1t)
Travis Ismaiel (wing, Bulls, uncapped)
Elton Jantjies (flyhalf, Lions, 23, 203 - 2t, 38c, 39p)
Jesse Kriel (centre, Bulls, 29, 40 - 8t)
Willie le Roux (fullback, Wasps, England, 41, 50 - 10t)
Makazole Mapimpi (wing, Sharks, uncapped)
Sibusiso Nkosi (wing, Sharks, uncapped)
Embrose Papier (scrumhalf, Bulls, uncapped)
Handré Pollard (flyhalf, Bulls, 26, 218 - 3t, 37c, 40p, 3d)
Frans Steyn (utility back, Montpellier, France, 56, 132 - 10t, 5c, 21p, 3d)
Ivan van Zyl (scrumhalf, Bulls, uncapped)
Cameron Wright (scrumhalf, Sharks, uncapped)

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Saturday, 09 June 2018
Japan v Italy, Oita Bank Stadium 07:45
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