Nienaber reveals his year-end hand
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named only one new cap in his squad for the year-end tour.
Former South African schools and Junior Springbok captain Salmaan Moerat has earned his first Springbok call-up in a squad of 32 players, named by Nienaber on Tuesday – for the year-end tour to the United Kingdom in November.
The Springboks will play three Test matches on the tour – against Wales in Cardiff (November 6), Scotland in Edinburgh (November 13) and England in London (November 20).
Moerat is the only newcomer in Nienaber’s squad that featured against the British and Irish Lions as well as the Rugby Championship and he will join forces with Eben Etzebeth, Lodewyk de Jager, Franco Mostert and Marvin Orie in a strong group of second row forwards.
The only other uncapped player in the squad is scrumhalf Grant Williams, who travelled to Australia with the Boks for the Rugby Championship.
The main injury-enforced omissions from Nienaber’s squad, are Francois de Klerk (hip flexor), Cheslin Kolbe (knee), Frans Malherbe (neck), and Rudolph Snyman (knee).
Other players not considered for selection include Pieter-Steph du Toit and Rynhardt Elstadt, who are recovering from shoulder and ankle injuries respectively.
The squad consist of 18 forwards and 14 backs.
(Article continues below …)
“This tour is going to be exciting yet challenging,” said Nienaber.
“The core group of players who played a key role in the series against the British & Irish Lions, as well as the Rugby Championship will remain together as we build consistency and continuity in our squad with an eye on the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“We had to travel to Australia with an expanded squad due the strict COVID-19 protocols in the country, but with the easing of travel restrictions to Europe and the UK, we were able to revert to a more manageable touring squad.
“We are two years out from the Rugby World Cup in France, and we have close to 20 Test matches before we start our defence of the title, so every match will count in terms of building confidence and consistency as a group.
“A number of players have put up their hands in the Currie Cup and the first four rounds of the United Rugby Championship, which is great for our local game, and while they remain on our radar, we’ve decided to stick with the core of our 2021 squad for this tour.”
Commenting on the loss of a few players due to injury, Nienaber said: “It’s always unfortunate to lose players due to injury, but we have good depth in our squad, and these are established players who have proven themselves at the highest level.”
Nienaber was delighted to call up Moerat, who has been serving as the Stormers’ co-captain on their United Rugby Championship tour in recent weeks and said the lock’s experience and leadership qualities would be valuable as he makes the step up to the Springbok team.
“Salmaan has established himself as a talented lock and captain since his younger days in our junior structures and he has continued to show his class at senior level for the Stormers and Western Province,” said Nienaber.
“His call-up is well earned, and we are looking forward to witnessing what he adds to the squad. He is also familiar with most of the players in the squad having either played with them or against them, so we have no doubt he will slot in with ease.”
Nienaber expected tough competition on the tour and said: “We have built a good base this season after our series victory against the British & Irish Lions and victories against the All Blacks, Argentina and Georgia, although we were disappointed that the results did not go our way in the other three Tests in Australia (in the Rugby Championship).
“Obviously this will be a completely different challenge to that we faced in South Africa and Australia earlier this year with the vastly different conditions and in terms of the teams we will face, but fortunately we got a taste of what to expect from the northern hemisphere sides in the Lions Series.
“England is in fourth place on the world rankings, and Scotland and Wales are in seventh and ninth place respectively, and they are all top-class teams that will want to make a strong statement in front of their home crowds, so we need to get into the swing of things quickly when we assemble,” the Springbok coach added.
The Springboks will depart for a one-week training camp in France on Friday before making the journey to Cardiff for their opening Test.
South African squad
Forwards: Thomas du Toit (Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Retshegofaditswe Nché (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux Bègles), Malcolm Marx (Spears), Mbongeni Mbonambi (Stormers), Lodewyk de Jager (Sale Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Toulon), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), Marvin Orie (Stormers), Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain, Sharks), Albertus Smith (Júbilo), Marco van Staden (Leicester Tigers), Duane Vermeulen (Ulster), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers), Franco Mostert (Heat).
Backs: Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Grant Williams (Sharks), Elton Jantjies (Red Hurricanes), Handré Pollard (Montpellier), Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Munster), Jesse Kriel (Eagles), Aphelele Fassi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Sibusiso Nkosi (Sharks), Damian Willemse (Stormers), Frans Steyn (Cheetahs).
Year-end tour fixtures (SA kick-off times):
Saturday, November 6: v Wales (Cardiff – 19.30)
Saturday, November 13: v Scotland (Edinburgh – 14.00)
Saturday, November 20: v England (London – 17.15)