Cape Town - Johan Ackermann has been appointed as head coach of a strong SA ‘A’ team, featuring six players with Springbok test experience, for their two-match series against the England Saxons next month. He will be assisted by Chumani Booi and Abe Davids.
Five of the six players with test experience are in the pack. They are Oupa Mohoje, Nizaam Carr, Coenie Oosthuizen, Vincent Koch and Marcel van der Merwe. At the back, Piet van Zyl will provide knowledge of international rugby.
The national selectors also picked seven players who had their first taste of Vodacom Super Rugby this year. They are Lukhanyo Am, Jean-Luc du Preez, Lizo Gqoboka, Ntando Kebe, JD Schickerling, RG Snyman and Leolin Zas.
“Many of the players in the SA ‘A’ squad were considered for the Springboks and will obviously come into consideration in the event of injuries, but we could only select a certain number of players and it will be good to see them get international exposure against a strong England Saxons team,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
“For the first two weeks of our series against Ireland, we will release four players not included in the Springboks’ match-23 to the SA ‘A’ squad and we will work closely with Johan and his coaching team to get the best out of our players.
“Only players based in South Africa were considered for the SA ‘A’ squad and it was good to balance the squad with some experienced test players. However, we’ve also seen an exciting generation of new players emerge in Vodacom Super Rugby this year – some of them coming through after injuries to other players – and I’d like to see them grab their opportunities against the Saxons.”
Ackermann, a former Springbok lock, is currently the most-experienced South African coach in Vodacom Super Rugby with the Emirates Lions. Under his coaching, the Xerox Golden Lions went unbeaten through the Currie Cup season in 2015.
Booi, the current Border Bulldogs assistant coach, is a former provincial star with 20 Vodacom Super Rugby and 147 provincial matches to his name, while Davids is the head coach of the SWD Eagles and previously coached the Boland Cavaliers.
Completing the management team are Rob Collins (team doctor), Karabo Morokane (physiotherapist), Thulani Nteta (strength & conditioning coach), and Willem Oliphant (team manager). SA Rugby will second a technical analyst from its Rugby Department to assist the team.
“We’re very excited to see what Johan and his team can do against what will be a very strong England Saxons team,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“Johan has done very well with the Lions recently and they’ve played an exciting brand of rugby. I’m sure the SA ‘A’ team will be just as formidable under his coaching.
“This will also be a good opportunity for Abe and Chumani to coach against international opposition Both SWD and Border have played some enterprising rugby this year and have claimed some big scalps along the way. They will add a good dynamic to the SA ‘A’ team.”
The SA ‘A’ team and the England Saxons’ matches are scheduled for Friday, 10 June at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, and a week later, on Friday 17 June, at Outeniqua Park in George. Both encounters will kick off at 19h10 and be broadcast on SuperSport.
THE SA ‘A’ SQUAD FOR THE ENGLAND SAXONS TOUR IS:
Province / Franchise
Centre / Wing
Cell C Sharks / Southern Kings
Flyhalf / Fullback
Steval Pumas / Vodacom Bulls
Jean-Luc du Preez
Cell C Sharks
Thomas du Toit
Cell C Sharks
Border Bulldogs / Southern Kings
Steval Pumas / DHL Stormers
Cell C Sharks
Marcel van der Merwe
Piet van Zyl
SA ‘A’ Team Management:
Johan Ackermann – Head Coach
Chumani Booi – Assistant Coach
Abe Davids – Assistant Coach
Thulani Nteta – Conditioning Coach
Dr Rob Collins – Team Doctor
Karabo Morokane – Physiotherapist
Willem Oliphant – Team Manager