Cape Town - Three overseas-based Springboks – Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and Steven Kitshoff – will meet up with the Springbok squad on Sunday as preparations for the first Test against Ireland continue.
The Boks have just concluded a week-long training camp in Stellenbosch that coach Allister Coetzee expressed immense satisfaction with on Friday, but next week he will have to factor in three more names into his set-up.
Vermeulen and Louw obviously come with a wealth of experience, while the highly-rated Kitshoff will challenge Tendai Mtawarira for a place at loosehead.
Kitshoff looked all set for his Springbok debut towards the end of 2015 as Heyneke Meyer concluded his preparations for the World Cup, but a knee injury ruled him out at a critical time.
Since then, Kitshoff has left the Stormers to join France’s Bordeaux-Begles, but he remains highly rated by Springbok management and is in line to make his Test debut against Ireland in Cape Town on June 11.
“He has played well at Super Rugby … whenever we had him we knew he was a phenomenal talent,” Springbok assistant coach Matt Proudfoot said of Kitshoff, recalling their time together at the Stormers.
“He is a guy who, at that age, was so well developed and prepared to handle the rigours of senior rugby … you know he has the mental capability.
“He can be aggressive, specifically in the scrums, but he can be very accurate as well … that’s a very strong characteristic you look for in props. A lot of props struggle with the balance of when to go and to be accurate.
“Steven will be around for a long time to come.”
Turning his attention to Vermeulen and Louw, Proudfoot said it would be crucial to have their experience at a time when the Boks are beginning a new journey.
“Duane and Flo obviously bring a lot of physicality and experience,” said Proudfoot.
“They’ve been a part of this team for a long time. They understand what has been before us … those guys bring a lot of continuity and in a pack that’s important.”