Cape Town - Seabelo Senatla, the current World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, as well as fit-again Springboks Handré Pollard, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe and Jaco Kriel, were all included in an extended Springbok training squad for the first of three camps, in Johannesburg.
The camp takes place from Sunday, 5 to Tuesday, March 7 and is the first of three preparations camps the Springboks will undertake as part of their plans before the start of the international season in June, when South Africa host France in a three-match series.
Also included in the squad are five promising players who are earmarked for possible future Springbok involvement. They are Ox Nche (prop, Cheetahs), Joseph Dweba (hooker, Cheetahs), Hanro Liebenberg (No 8, Bulls), Warrick Gelant (fullback, Bulls) and Wilco Louw (prop, Stormers).
All five youngsters are Junior Springboks, having represented the South Africa at various editions of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship. Four of them, Nche, Liebenberg, Gelant and Louw, featured for their franchises in the opening round of Vodacom Super Rugby the past weekend.
Players from the Sharks or Kings were not considered for the Johannesburg camp, because of Super Rugby duty in Australia and Singapore, while Lions players will leave the camp after Monday's activities as they are travelling with their franchise team to Argentina the following day.
Long-term injured players such as Juan de Jongh (centre), Roelof Smit (flank) and Howard Mnisi (centre) were not considered for this camp.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said he is very happy to start working with the extended Bok squad so early in the year.
“We did a lot of background planning and this camp will give us the opportunity to take the objectives we agreed on at the various indabas, to the training field,” said Coetzee.
“This group was selected before the start of Vodacom Super Rugby so that we could adhere to World Rugby regulations by giving notice of the camp 14 days in advance.”
SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux, said: “I want to thank our franchises for their co-operation and releasing their players during Vodacom Super Rugby for the three Springbok camps.
“Unfortunately, we did not have any of these camps in 2016 and we know it is very important for the players and the coaches to spend as much time together as possible before the start of the season.”
41-man Springbok training squad:
Nizaam Carr, Uzair Cassiem, Damian de Allende, Lood de Jager, Faf de Klerk, Ruan Dreyer, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Joseph Dweba*, Eben Etzebeth, Warrick Gelant*, Lizo Gqoboka, Hanro Liebenberg*, Travis Ismaiel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Elton Jantjies, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel, Jesse Kriel, Wilco Louw*, Frans Malherbe, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Teboho Mohoje, Franco Mostert, Ox Nche*, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Trevor Nyakane, Rudy Paige, Sergeal Petersen, Handré Pollard, Raymond Rhule, Seabelo Senatla, Jan Serfontein, RG Snyman, Jamba Ulengo, Armand van der Merwe, Piet van Zyl, Francois Venter, Warren Whiteley
* Young guns