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Bok coach Rassie reveals youth and experience in 43-man squad

SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: The Springboks will get the wheels in motion for the 2024 season in Cape Town in the first week of March with the first in-person coaches’ strategic session.

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It will include a two-day alignment camp with a group of 43 players, which will mark the team’s first gathering following their World Cup triumph in France in 2023.

The coaching team, led by double Rugby World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus, will assemble in the Mother City on Monday, March 4, for two days where they will plot their plans for the 2024 season – which includes the mid-year Test matches and Rugby Championship.

These competitions will feature entertaining Test series against Ireland and New Zealand respectively.

The group of 43 include 39 domestic players and four Japan-based players, who are currently injured and doing their rehabilitation in South Africa. The group will gather on Tuesday, March 5 for two days of boardroom sessions to get everyone up to speed on the way forward this season.

Nineteen individuals were members of the 2023 World Cup-winning team, including Ox Nche, Frans Malherbe (both props), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Marco van Staden (flank) and Canan Moodie (utility back).

A handful of players, meanwhile, will get to work with some of the coaching staff again after either being involved in the set-up before at alignment camp or SA ‘A’ level, including Sanele Nohamba, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Suleiman Hartzenberg, while others will get their first taste of Springbok rugby including Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Quan Horn, Neethling Fouche and Marnus van der Merwe, among others.

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To Erasmus’ delight 27 players in the group have Test caps, meaning there will be a healthy mix of youth and experience.

Commenting on the coaches’ strategic session, Erasmus said: “We are delighted that the new coaching team will meet in person for the first time and that we will have the opportunity to present solid structures and the Springbok culture and way of doing things to the invited players.

“The focus at this camp will be to get everyone on the same page for the 2024 season and we believe this will lay a good foundation for us looking forward.

“Jerry (Flannery) and Tony (Brown) are going to play vital roles in this coaching team, and we are excited to see them along with our other coaching staff put proper steps into action as we prepare for the challenging season ahead.”

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Of the group of players invited to the camp, Erasmus said: “This bunch of players includes several individuals who have been part of our structures in the last six years, and their experience and familiarity with the way we do things at the Springboks, will be invaluable in guiding the younger players, while others have been exposed to it before by representing the SA ‘A’ team that faced Munster and the Bristol Bears in November 2022.

“There are also a few new players in the mix, who have proven their worth at provincial level and we are excited to see them receive this opportunity and get a real feel about what is expected of them at the highest level.”

This will mark the first of three alignment camps before the Springboks put the building blocks in place on the field for the international season, which includes two Tests against Ireland and the first international against Portugal in the Incoming Series in July.

The Rugby Championship, meanwhile, will see the world champions play back-to-back Tests against Australia away before successive Tests against New Zealand at home, and two Tests – one home and one away – against Argentina.

Players invited to Springbok alignment camp (in alphabetical order):

Forwards: Eben Etzebeth (Sharks), Neethling Fouche (Stormers), Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls), Celimpilo Gumede (Bulls), Cameron Hanekom (Bulls), Andre-Hugo Venter (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Sharks), Elrigh Louw (Bulls), Wilco Louw (Bulls), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks), Malcolm Marx (Spears), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Sharks), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), Ox Nche (Sharks), Ruan Nortje (Bulls), Evan Roos (Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls), Marnus van der Merwe (Cheetahs), Ruben van Heerden (Stormers), Marco van Staden (Bulls), Ruan Venter (Lions), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Bulls).

Backs: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls), Faf de Klerk (Eagles), Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Stormers), Suleiman Hartzenberg (Stormers), Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), Jordan Hendrikse (Lions), Quan Horn (Lions), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Jesse Kriel (Eagles), Willie le Roux (Bulls), Manie Libbok (Stormers), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Canan Moodie (Bulls), Sanele Nohamba (Lions), Morne van den Berg (Lions), Henco van Wyk (Lions), Grant Williams (Sharks), Damian Willemse (Stormers).

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