The selectors on Saturday named six uncapped players in a Springbok squad of 30 for their five-match tour of Britain and Ireland next month.
SA Under-20 stars Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) and Patrick Lambie (flyhalf/fullback) were promoted to the senior squad after highly impressive debut seasons, while The Sharks trio of wing Lwazi Mvovo and backrowers Willem Alberts and Keegan Daniel as well as dynamic Vodacom Cheetahs loosehead prop Coenie Oosthuizen were also called up to a Springbok squad for the first time.
Two overseas-based players were named in the party in Ulster’s Ruan Pineaar – who will join the squad in Johannesburg on Sunday – and Frans Steyn (of Racing Metro in France), who will be available following the opening Test against Ireland. The tour will be led by Vodacom Blue Bulls captain Victor Matfield, with Juan Smith of the Vodacom Cheetahs as vice-captain.
“We’ve rewarded players for their form in what was a difficult selection as there were a number of others who were part of our preliminary squad who were very close to selection,” said Peter de Villiers, Springbok coach.
“But we looked at the players who were performing now in our selection criteria as we need to be on top form from the first kick-off in Ireland.
“It’s a new-look squad but it has a good backbone of experience for what is going to be a challenging tour.”
Players not considered for selection because of injury were John Smit, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Andries Bekker, Fourie du Preez, Heinrich Brüssow, JP Pietersen, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Butch James and BJ Botha.
“We have the advantage that a number of players such as Juan Smith, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Bakkies Botha and Ricky Januarie have not had a lot of rugby this season for one reason or another,” said De Villiers. “When you add that to the number of absentees through injury it means that there are only a few players on tour whose volume of work we will need to manage and this squad gives us options to do that.
“We needed strong on-field leadership because of the absence of a number of those key players which is why it was critical for us that Victor should lead the squad,” said De Villiers.
The Springboks’ fixtures are:
November 6 v Ireland (Dublin)
November 13 v Wales (Cardiff)
November 20 v Scotland (Edinburgh)
November 27 v England (Twickenham)
December 4 v Barbarians (Twickenham)
Tour squad (in alphabetical order. * Indicates new cap):
Gio Aplon (Vodacom Western Province); Age: 28; Test caps: 9
Bjorn Basson (Vodacom Blue Bulls); 23, 2
Juan de Jongh (Vodacom Western Province); 22, 6
Jean de Villiers (Vodacom Western Province); 29, 63
Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Blue Bulls); 22, 5
Bryan Habana (Vodacom Western Province); 27, 66
* Elton Jantjies (Xerox Golden Lions); 20, 0
Ricky Januarie (Vodacom Western Province); 28, 47
* Patrick Lambie (The Sharks); 20, 0
* Lwazi Mvovo (The Sharks); 24, 0
Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, N Ireland); 26, 43
Frans Steyn (Racing Metro, France); 23, 39
Morne Steyn (Vodacom Blue Bulls); 26, 21
* Willem Alberts (The Sharks); Age: 26, Test caps: 0
Bakkies Botha (Vodacom Blue Bulls); 31, 68
Schalk Burger (Vodacom Western Province); 27, 63
* Keegan Daniel (The Sharks); 25, 0
Bismarck du Plessis (The Sharks); 26, 32
Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks); 28, 20
Alistair Hargreaves (The Sharks); 24, 2
Ryan Kankowski (The Sharks); 25, 16
Victor Matfield (captain, Vodacom Blue Bulls); 33, 101
Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks); 25, 22
* Coenie Oosthuizen (Vodacom Cheetahs); 21, 0
Chiliboy Ralepelle (Vodacom Blue Bulls); 24, 17
Juan Smith (Vodacom Cheetahs); 29, 65
Pierre Spies (Vodacom Blue Bulls); 25, 37
Adriaan Strauss (Vodacom Cheetahs); 24, 7
CJ van der Linde (Vodacom Cheetahs); 30, 65
Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls); 25, 6