JP Pietersen and Johann Muller remain part of the long-term planning for the South African rugby team even though they have not been included in the Springbok squad of 30 to play Wales and Italy next month.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that Springbok coach Peter de Villiers says there are problems with Pietersen’s conditioning and Muller could be in the squad for the Tri-Nations tour of Australasia.
“JP is a fantastic player but there were other things that we considered,” De Villiers said after the squad was announced here on Wednesday. “I think something is wrong with his conditioning.
“We’d like to get his conditioning right and make him more competitive with a view to next year’s British and Irish Lions tour and the Tri-Nations.”
His absence from the current squad does not mean Pietersen won’t be considered for tours, De Villiers added.
Turning to Muller’s position, he said the selectors felt Danie Rossouw could add more value because the Bulls had dropped out of the Super 14 competition before the Sharks did.
“Johann is still getting over the disappointment of the Sharks’ semi-final defeat.”
Another 2007 World Cup Springbok, centre Wynand Olivier, was not selected for the squad.
Believe in all the players
The door opened for the more dynamic Adrian Jacobs, and Gcobani Bobo was rewarded for his good Super 14 form.
Akona Ndungane, another member of the World Cup squad, also missed out but his twin brother Odwa, who has more flair, was selected.
“I believe in all the players who attended the training camp,” De Villiers said. “Everyone will do well on any given day. The guys who were here showed in the Super 14 they could do what we require.”
De Villiers also provided some insight into the role of the loose forwards.
“We have two specialist eighthmen, Ryan Kankowski and Pierre Spies. That is the only position in which they will play.
“Joe van Niekerk and Danie Rossouw will have versatile roles.”
Luke Watson, the only fit open-side flank in the squad, probably has a good chance of being included in the run-on team. Juan Smith is likely to be the other flank.
De Villiers has only two hookers in his squad, Springbok captain John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis. Schalk Brits was sent back to Western Province but remains part of the coach’s plans.
“There is many unfortunate players, but what would you have done if you were the coach, with John and Bismarck at your disposal? It’s hard to keep everyone happy,” De Villiers said.
“We decided to be honest. Schalk (Brits) and all the others who were sent back are still in our plans.
“We brought them here so that they will understand what our plans for the next four years will be.
“The most difficult thing for me was to send players back. One grows with the players and most of them are just as good as the ones who made the squad.”Tweet