The Springbok selectors have named two squads of 44 players each, including 19 uncapped players and a number of injured stars for the Springboks’ first two training camps of the season. The first camp in Johannesburg will run from May 3-6 and the second camp is scheduled for Cape Town from May 31 to June 3.
The Boks play their first match of the year on July 11 against a World XV in Cape Town. The Bulls and the Sharks players will miss one of the two camps because their tour obligations.
De Jongh hasn’t featured in Meyer’s plans since the Bok coach took over from Peter de Villiers. De Jongh last played for South Africa at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
But the Stormers vice-captain has arguably been the best South African outside centre in Super Rugby alongside the Lions’ Lionel Mapoe, who was also selected for the training camp.
Stormers tighthead prop Vincent Koch and fullback Cheslin Kolbe have also been rewarded for their form, and are two of three new faces in the training squad who have never been with the Boks before. The other player is Lions scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
The other Stormers players who are part of the 16 uncapped players invited to one or both of the camps are Ruan Botha, Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni, Bongi Mbonambi, Michael Rhodes, Demetri Catrakilis, Kobus van Wyk and Nic Groom.
“The door to Springbok selection is never closed, and by inviting these players we are rewarding great form for their franchises in Super Rugby,” Meyer said in a statement.
“The amazing thing is that most of these 19 uncapped players have been involved with us before, but I’m always excited to work with new players.
“This year, players such as Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch and Jesse Kriel, to name but a few, have been in great form in Super Rugby and they are certainly knocking on the selection door. The Rugby World Cup squad will only be announced at the end of August and there is still a lot of places we’re undecided on.”
The training squads include key players currently injured, such as Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Pat Lambie and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who have been invited to the camps, but will not take part in the field sessions. They will be monitored and their fitness evaluated as the international season is getting closer.
“Injuries are part of the game, but I am concerned about them,” said Meyer.
“These camps will provide our medical team with the opportunity to evaluate the progress on the injured players as many of them are experienced and established Springboks who will in all probability feature at some stage this season. It also makes sense to involve them now already in our off-field sessions and video sessions.”
The Springbok training squads:
Johannesburg camp (Sharks on tour) May 3-6
Forwards: Arno Botha, Ruan Botha, Heinrich Brüssow, Schalk Burger, Nizaam Carr, Robbie Coetzee, Lood de Jager, Jacques du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Dean Greyling, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi, Lappies Labuschagne, Frans Malherbe, Victor Matfield, Teboho Mohoje, Trevor Nyakane, Scarra Ntubeni, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pierre Spies, Adriaan Strauss, Marcel van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley.
Backs: Bjorn Basson, Demetri Catrakilis, Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh, Faf de Klerk, Jean de Villiers, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Lionel Mapoe, Rudy Paige, Handré Pollard, Jan Serfontein, Kobus van Wyk, Francois Venter.
Cape Town camp (Bulls on tour) May 31 to June 3:
Forwards: Willem Alberts, Ruan Botha, Heinrich Brüssow, Schalk Burger, Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Robbie Coetzee, Lood de Jager, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jean Deysel, Eben Etzebeth, Lizo Gqoboka, Ryan Kankowski, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Teboho Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Scarra Ntubeni, Coenie Oosthuizen, Michael Rhodes, Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley.
Backs: Demetri Catrakilis, Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh, Faf de Klerk, Jean de Villiers, Nic Groom, Cornal Hendricks, Elton Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Lionel Mapoe, Lwazi Mvovo, JP Pietersen, Cobus Reinach, Kobus van Wyk, Francois Venter.- Cape Timed
Original source: De Jongh’s chance to force Heyneke’s hand