VIDEO: The Bok 'roadmap' for ThorMeulen explained
The names of Duane Vermeulen and Frans Steyn were conspicuous by their absence from the year-end tour squad.
However, it does not mean it is the end of the road for the two legends – Steyn, a 35-year-old two-time World Cup winner, and Vermeulen, 36 and a member of the victorious class of 2019 that also lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said their absence does not mean they are out of the selection frame for the World Cup in France next year.
Steyn aggravated a knee strain in the Cheetahs’ 53-25 rout of the touring United States Falcons team in Bloemfontein earlier this month and is not fit enough.
However, Erasmus said even if Steyn was available, he would not have been selected for the trip that includes Tests against Ireland (this Saturday, November 5), France (November 12), Italy (November 19) and England (November 26).
“We had a plan during the Rugby Championship, based on what we wanted to achieve,” the DoR said.
“We have seen enough of some of the guys who are getting a bit older, but can still make it to the World Cup [France 2023].
“We know their commitment.
“We think a guy like Duane doesn’t need any more experience.”
Erasmus said the year-end trip – where they play the teams ranked No.1 (Ireland) and No.2 (France) on the world rankings – is the perfect opportunity to give a chance to some of the other young fringe players.
The Bok boss said Vermeulen is getting really well managed by his Irish province, Ulster.
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“The guys who are pushing really hard, we have included and will get an opportunity in those six games,” he said of players Marco van Staden, Phendulani Buthelezi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
Van Staden’s arrival at the team in Europe has been delayed by a rib injury he suffered in the Bulls’ 40-27 United Rugby Championship win over the Sharks at the weekend.
It means that when coach Jacques Nienaber unveils his team on Tuesday – ahead of Saturday’s tour opener against Ireland – there will be some changes from the side that concluded the Rugby Championship with a three-Test winning streak.
Injured stars Francois Steyn and Canan Moodie are both out – having featured in the wins over Australia (24-8 in Sydney) and Argentina (36-20 in Buenos Aires and 38-21 in Durban).
Nienaber may well stick to his starting front row of Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Frans Malherbe – with Mbongeni Mbonambi a possibility to start at hooker.
Vincent Koch and Retshegofaditswe Nche are likely to play off the bench again and Joseph Dweba has been dropped to the SA ‘A’ team.
Eben Etzebeth and Lodewyk de Jager are the starting locks – with Siyamthanda Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jasper Wiese also looking settled.
Franco Mostert is an option at flank ahead of Du Toit, but still seems to make a bigger impact off the bench instead of starting.
Jaden Hendrikse and Damian Willemse are likely to be the starting halfback combination.
Makazole Mapimpi, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel are good bets for the starting XV – with a change needed on the right wing.
The Moodie injury and Sibusiso Nkosi’s delayed departure as a result of a rib injury mean Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse are in the frame for the No.14 jersey.
Kolbe is also a possibility at fullback in place of Willie le Roux.