Europe-bound Boks won’t be involved in URC action this weekend
The Boks will play four Tests in Europe, while the SA 'A' team have two matches lined up against Bristol and Munster.
Damian Willemse, seen here at the Springboks’ training camp in Stellenbosch, is set to play a big role on the team’s tour of Europe from Saturday. Picture: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images
The Springbok coaching team have expressed their satisfaction with a three-day training camp in Stellenbosch, which concluded on Wednesday.
The Boks and an SA ‘A’ team are set to tour Europe next month, where they will play four Tests against Ireland in Dublin on 5 November, France in Marseille on 12 November, Italy in Genoa on 19 November, and England in London on 26 November and two matches against Munster on Thursday, 10 November, and the Bristol Bears a week later on 17 November respectively.
SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, and the Springbok and SA ‘A’ head coaches, Jacques Nienaber and Mzwandile Stick, will announce the travelling squads on Friday.
“It was a fantastic camp, and it offered the coaches an ideal opportunity to get the players to switch their focus to the Ireland Test next week and the forthcoming SA ‘A’ matches,” said Erasmus.
“It was also valuable in the sense that it exposed new players such as Manie (Libbok) and Sacha (Mngomezulu) to our structures and to see them in action as we finalise the selections for the Springbok and SA ‘A’ teams. It was pleasing to see their, and the rest of the training squad’s, enthusiasm.
“The Springboks are facing the two best teams in the world on successive weekends in Ireland and France, and Italy and England are always forces to be reckoned with, especially at home, while Munster and Bristol are top clubs and will test the SA ‘A’ team thoroughly, and we are now all on the same page in terms of the expectations on the players and coaches.”
Erasmus added: “The next step is to decide which players will depart for Ireland on Saturday as members of the Springbok squad, and those who will travel straight to Cork on Saturday, 5 November, as part of the SA ‘A’ touring group.”
The players who will depart for Ireland on Saturday will be withdrawn from their respective United Rugby Championship franchises this weekend, while the other players will be eligible for selection for the two local derbies.
Nienaber said the coaches achieved what they set out to do at the camp: “The training camp was beneficial in many ways as the players are back in Test mode, we had an opportunity to look at and discuss the opposition we’ll be facing on tour, and we had a golden opportunity to work with the SA ‘A’ coaching team and expose them to the way we do things at the Springboks.
“There’s a huge sense of excitement within in the squad among the management and players, but we are under no illusions about the magnitude of the challenge that lies ahead.”
The Springbok touring squad will assemble in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon and will depart for Ireland later in the evening.