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Rassie's barbed rebuttal of 'alignment critics'

REACTION: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus, true to form, did not hold back in the face of criticism of his latest squad selection.

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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 strategic session between coaches and players.

Erasmus this week named a group of 43 players for a two-day ‘alignment camp’.

It sparked many comments about new ‘selections’ and those who missed out.

However, Erasmus was quick to set the record straight.

“Remember, an alignment camp does not mean those are the only players who will play for the Springboks this year,” the Bok boss said.

“Just like in the past there is a purpose for every camp,” he added.

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The coaching team 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 Tests 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.

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Nineteen individuals were members of the 2023 World Cup-winning team – including Ox Nche, Frans Malherbe (both props), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Marco van Staden (flanker) 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.

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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