Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Springbok newbies targeting international debuts against Wales

Rassie Erasmus anticipates that a few uncapped players will be making their Test debuts against Wales.

A number of Springbok newbies will be hoping to make their international debut when the Boks open their season by locking horns with Wales at Twickenham in two weeks’ time.

Bok coach Rassie Erasmus named his first training squad of the season on Saturday night, featuring 35 players selected from three SA franchises and players based in Japan, 11 of whom are uncapped, and their full focus is on the Welsh match.

With the game falling outside the international window, Boks playing in Europe are unavailable for selection for the game, while the Bulls players who were in contention are also ruled out after they reached the United Rugby Championship semifinals.

This has opened the door for a number of up-and-coming players to get a chance to impress the selectors during the camp and possibly get their first taste of international rugby.

The uncapped players in the squad are Jordan Hendrikse, Quan Horn, Edwill van der Merwe, Morne van den Berg, Phepsi Buthelezi, Siya Masuku, Ethan Hooker, Ben-Jason Dixon, Sacha Feinberg-Mgomezulu, Neethling Fouche and Andre-Hugo Venter.

Test debuts

Erasmus admitted that he anticipated a few of these players would be making their Test debuts against Wales as the Boks continued to blood new talent, working towards the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

There are some positions that the Boks will likely be focusing on, due to injury or lack of depth, and that will aid some players in their hope of making the match day squad.

The key positions are likely fullback, wing, flyhalf, hooker and prop, which means players such as Hendrikse, Horn, Van Der Merwe, Masuku, Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Fouche and Venter will probably have the inside track to a possible debut.

After the Welsh game another Bok squad will be named for the incoming tour against Ireland and Portugal and the Rugby Championship, with all SA players available for selection.

This is, therefore, a massive opportunity for the uncapped newbies, as well as a number of fringe players to impress and put their hands up for selection to the main squad for the remainder of the international season.