The national selectors have named a squad of 23 for the Springboks’ opening match of the 2009 Tri-Nations against New Zealand at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday, July 25.
The group includes 22 players that took part in the recently completed 2-1 Test series victory over the British & Irish Lions. The only newcomer is Sharks prop Jannie du Plessis, who returns to the national set-up after last playing for the Springboks against England at the end of 2008.
Fourteen of the 23 players selected were amongst the match 22 in the third Test against the Lions on July 4.
The group includes lock Bakkies Botha, whose two-week suspension ends this week. The Bok squad assembles in Bloemfontein on Thursday afternoon.
Players in the broader Springbok squad, who played against the Lions but have not been selected for the first Tri-Nations Test, have been released to play for their provinces in the Currie Cup.
The convenor of the selectors, Peter Jooste, said that it was important to maintain consistency in selection from the Lions Series.
“We have stuck with the core of the players who took part in the Castle South Africa 2009 Lions Series, most of whom have been in the larger Springbok training squad over the past 12 months. We have also tried to ensure that the combinations that featured in the first two Lions Tests are kept intact to ensure consistency and familiarity,” Jooste said.
Head coach Peter de Villiers added that whilst the Tri-Nations represented a new and different challenge it was important to build on what had been achieved against the Lions.
“The Lions Series was ideal preparation for the Tri-Nations,” he said.
“The core squad that secured the series win in the first two Tests has great potential as a unit and we believe that they have much more to offer. That is why we have made sure that we have remained consistent in our selection policy”.
Commenting on the return of Jannie du Plessis, Jooste said: “Jannie has been a part of the Springbok squad since 2007 and still has much to offer. He was unfortunate to miss out on selection for the Lions series but now gets an opportunity in the Tri-Nations”.
Andries Bekker (Western Province)
Bakkies Botha (Blue Bulls)
Heinrich Brüssow (Free State Cheetahs)
Bismarck du Plessis (harks)
Jannie du Plessis (Sharks)
Ryan Kankowski (Sharks)
Victor Matfield (Blue Bulls) – vice-captain
Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (Blue Bulls)
Danie Rossouw (Blue Bulls)
John Smit (Sharks) – Captain
Juan Smith (Free State Cheetahs)
Pierre Spies (Blue Bulls)
Jean de Villiers (Western Province)
Fourie du Preez (Blue Bulls)
Jaque Fourie (Lions)
Bryan Habana (Blue Bulls)
Adi Jacobs (Sharks)
Ricky Januarie (Western Province)
Ruan Pienaar (Sharks)
JP Pietersen (Sharks)
Frans Steyn (Sharks)
Morné Steyn (Blue Bulls)