Roos left out of Bok squad for tour to Australia
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber on Monday named a 34-man squad for their Australian leg of the Rugby Championship.
Hooker Bongi Mbonambi has been ruled out for four weeks after suffering a knee injury at training last week.
It means Deon Fourie will serve as back-up to Malcolm Marx and Joseph Dweba.
Canan Moodie, who was called up to the squad as utility back cover following the suspension handed to wing Kurt-Lee Arendse for a dangerous tackle, is the only uncapped player in the group and will travel with the Springboks for the first time, providing cover at wing and fullback.
His presence also fills the void left by Cheslin Kolbe, who is on the road to recovery from a broken jaw, which will see him only return for the last Test against Argentina.
Damian Willemse’s versatility in the backline will see him provide cover at flyhalf, centre and fullback.
The big surprise is the omission of Stormers No.8 Evan Roos.
Roos was by far the best player in the 2021/2022 United Rugby Championship season, but he has only featured in one of the Boks’ five Tests so far.
That was the 12-13 loss to Wales in Bloemfontein in the second Test of the three-match series.
Veteran No.8 Duane Vermeulen still gets the nod, despite his poor performance in the 23-35 loss to the All Blacks in Ellis Park. The other No.8 in the tour squad is Jasper Wiese.
Nienaber said the touring squad was in line with the standard travelling squad for the Rugby World Cup and he believed that they were the right group of players to achieve what they set out to do in the two Tests against Australia in Adelaide (Saturday, August 27) and Sydney (Saturday, September 3).
Nienaber said he would make changes to the squad for the two Tests against Argentina in Buenos Aires and Durban as he looks to give his expanded group of players a chance to prove themselves with an eye on the Rugby World Cup which will be hosted in France next year.
“We have been working with a large group of players for the last few months and we believe this will pay off in the long run as we look to expand our depth for the Rugby World Cup and beyond,” said Nienaber.
“Since we are going on tour, however, we will take a group of players that is more in line with the size of a Rugby World Cup squad, and our thought process is that we will have two groups of players – one who will participate in the Australian leg of the competition and another for the Argentina matches.
“This way we can manage the players as well as possible on tour, while at the same time ensuring we continue to develop our depth and give the players opportunities to prove themselves with a little over a year to go before the Rugby World Cup kicks off.”
On Mbonambi’s absence and Fourie’s inclusion, Nienaber added: “Bongi has been ruled out for four weeks, but Deon, who is an experienced hooker and flank, has been practicing his line-out throws with us, so we are confident that he will be able to fill that void for us in these matches.
“We are also excited to see how Canan slots in during the next few weeks and to see how he adapts to our structures and systems, and we believe he has the skills to slot in for Kurt-Lee and Cheslin.
“This is a settled group of players and includes a wide spread of experience and young players who have made their presence felt, and we believe that they have what it takes to guide us back on track in the Rugby Championship in the matches against Australia.”
The Springboks are currently on a short break and will depart on Thursday for the tour to Australia and Argentina.
“We are bitterly disappointed about the defeat against New Zealand last weekend, and we know that we have to be at our best to fight back in the next four matches of the competition to keep us in contention to win the tournament,” said Nienaber.
“We saw what Australia are capable at home last year and we know that we will be tested thoroughly.
“The last time we beat the Wallabies in Australia was in 2013, so we have a big mountain to climb over there, but that said, we have looked at our game against New Zealand and we know what areas we need to improve on, and we will put in the hard work on the field to iron out those aspects when we arrive in Australia.
“It is going to be a tough tour, but we know what our players are capable of, and we are determined to make our nation proud.”
Springbok touring squad:
Props: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Wasps), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Ox Nche (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92).
Hookers: Joseph Dweba (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears)
Locks: Eben Etzebeth (Sharks), Lood de Jager (Wild Knights), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers)
Loose forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Siya Kolisi (Sharks), Elrigh Louw (Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers), Duane Vermeulen (Ulster)
Utility forwards: Deon Fourie (Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)
Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier)
Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers)
Midfielders: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks) Damian de Allende (Wild Knights). Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins)
Outside backs: Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Canan Moodie (Bulls), Warrick Gelant (Racing 92)
Utility Backs: Damian Willemse (Stormers), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), Frans Steyn (Cheetahs)