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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Erasmus confirms World Cup stars will miss Boks’ first Irish Test

The Springboks will be without key players for their opening Test against Ireland in Pretoria next month.

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has confirmed that several Rugby World Cup winners will miss the first Test against Ireland in Pretoria on July 6.

Speaking to the media on Thursday at the team’s hotel in Pretoria, Erasmus announced that World Cup stars Damian Willemse, Canan Moodie, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Steven Kitshoff, Jean Kleyn, Lood de Jager and Jaden Hendrikse, as well as Jean-Luc du Preez and uncapped Henco van Wyk, will not only be unavailable for next weekend’s Test with Wales in London but also the first Test against Ireland at Loftus Versfeld next month.

The Springboks are currently in a training camp with 36 players, with a blend of youth and experience. For the Wales Test, Erasmus will be without several Bulls players, who are involved in the United Rugby Championship semi-finals this weekend (against Leinster at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday) and their Europe-based players.

No Bulls players for Wales Test

However, despite having an extended list of players on the mend and key players not available heading into the Wales Test next Saturday at Twickenham, Erasmus ruled out calling Bulls players into the squad for that game should their season end on Saturday with defeat to Leinster.

“There are some of the Bulls guys we know who understand how we want to play and how we want to change things, some of them have been in alignment camps before,” Erasmus said.

“I don’t think everybody that will eventually be involved with the Irish Test matches (from the Bulls) will get drafted for the Wales Test match just on the pure fact they haven’t trained with us apart from next week (if the Bulls lose this weekend).

“We already have a few injuries in the outside backs. Cheslin (Kolbe) is touch and go to be ready, but (Makazole) Mapimpi is fine. We might be thin there but we have got Quan Horn and Aphelele Fassi and Willie le Roux is someone that might settle the combinations there.

“Depending on how the guys do (on Saturday) and injury-wise, but it wouldn’t be ideal (for Bulls players) to have three training sessions and play a Test match against Wales,” he said.

The Springboks will announce the team to take on Wales next Tuesday.

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