Nienaber surprises with two uncapped players in squad
NEWS: Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has invited 17 players to attend the first week of their preparation camp for the July Tests.
The camp kicks off on Monday in Pretoria.
The squad features two uncapped players, the Sharks duo of Ntuthuko Mchunu (prop) and Grant Williams (scrumhalf).
Two additional injured players, Montpellier scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen, will also join the camp – where they will undergo rehabilitation with an eye on possible selection later in the year and the 2023 World Cup.
While Williams is a familiar face in national set-up, having after been a member of the Rugby Championship squad and the team’s year-end tour to the United Kingdom last year, Mchunu will experience his first taste of national action on the field.
With the Stormers and Bulls having booked their places in the United Rugby Championship semifinals against Ulster in Cape Town and the Leinster in Dublin respectively next weekend, the training squad will be expanded as the players complete their commitments, along with a handful of European-based players.
Nienaber was excited about the group of players invited to the preparation camp with an eye of getting down to business with just under four weeks to go before their opening Test against Wales at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
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“Most of these players were together for a large part of the 2021 season and they know each other well on and off the field, so we are confident that they will set the tone for an exciting season ahead when they begin the training programme on Monday,” said Nienaber.
“We also know what Grant can do, he showed his class at our training sessions last season, and he knows our structures and systems well, while Ntuthuko has really improved a lot over the last year, and we are excited to work with him after showing what he can do for the Sharks this season.”
Nienaber emphasised the importance of ensuring quality training sessions in the next few weeks, saying: “We have worked hard on ensuring that we have a well-developed squad that syncs quickly, so we will work as hard as possible in the next few weeks to get the structures going so that the other invited players can slot in quickly and easily.
“There are several familiar faces in the group and a few players who have been out of the set-up for a while, but we have our goals for this season and with an eye on the Rugby World Cup, so from a coaching perspective it is important that we know what talent we have across the board.
“We will announce our official squad later in the month once we have a clearer indication of which players are available and the injury status of all the players. But the important thing is that we get going with our on-field preparations as soon as possible so that we are ready to return to action when the July Tests begins.”
The Boks will kick off their 2022 season with three Tests against Wales in the July Tests, before launching into the Rugby Championship – where they will line up against the All Blacks in back-to-back home Tests, which will be followed by a tour to Australia and Argentina.
They will then return home for their final Test against the Pumas in Durban in September.
Players invited to Springbok preparation camp in Pretoria:
Thomas du Toit (Sharks)
Ntuthuko Mchunu (Sharks)
Retshegofaditswe Nche (Sharks)
Malcolm Marx (Spears)
Mbongeni Mbonambi (Sharks)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Verblitz)
Siyamthanda Kolisi (Sharks)
Albertus Smith (Júbilo)
Franco Mostert (Heat)
Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks)
Grant Williams (Sharks)
Elton Jantjies (Red Hurricanes)
Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)
Jesse Kriel (Eagles)
Aphelele Fassi (Sharks)
Willie le Roux (Verblitz)
Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks)