Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport


Springbok puzzle — are these players the missing pieces?

Several in-form local players, on the fringes of the Bok team, have missed out on an invitation to two preparation camps.


Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber on Monday named 15 players to take part in two preparation camps later this month ahead of the team’s international season. This group includes nine Sharks players, three Bulls players and three players who ply their trade in Japan. Currently injured players Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse and Canan Moodie are among the group. Who'll miss out? It seems then we should assume that the Bok door for 2023 is closed for the likes of Bulls hopefuls Cornal Hendricks, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje, Johan Grobbelaar, Sharks men Aphelele Fassie, Rohan Janse…

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Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber on Monday named 15 players to take part in two preparation camps later this month ahead of the team’s international season.

This group includes nine Sharks players, three Bulls players and three players who ply their trade in Japan. Currently injured players Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse and Canan Moodie are among the group.

Who’ll miss out?

It seems then we should assume that the Bok door for 2023 is closed for the likes of Bulls hopefuls Cornal Hendricks, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje, Johan Grobbelaar, Sharks men Aphelele Fassie, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Curwin Bosch and the Lions’ Sanele Nohamba and Francke Horn?

What Nienaber’s select grouping tells us is that there will be a number of Stormers players joining the Boks for the Tests this season, once their United Rugby Championship commitments are over, as well as several Europe-based players.

Stormers and overseas-based players

Of course, while Japan-based Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willie le Roux and Kwagga Smith will be part of the Bok camps, others like Faf de Klerk, Lood de Jager and Damian de Allende will join later as their teams are still involved in the Japanese league playoffs.

The Stormers players who could get a look in include Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies, Deon Fourie, Marvin Orie, Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff, and maybe Joseph Dweba, Evan Roos and Dan du Plessis.

The other overseas-based men who could feature include Vincent Koch, Trevor Nyakane, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Jasper Wiese, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen and Cheslin Kolbe.

Warrick Gelant, Elton Jantjies, Sbu Nkosi and Frans Steyn were also part of the Bok set-up in the build-up to and during the World Cup in Japan but they may miss out this time for various reasons.

Opportunities

With this being a World Cup year and all the focus for the Boks on going to France and defending the title they won in Japan four years ago, there will be no time or opportunity for Nienaber to test new players and combinations.

Nienaber has a shortened Rugby Championship to play, starting in early July, and then just a few additionally arranged warm-up matches to get things right, before the Boks are in action at the World Cup, starting in early September.

Nienaber is sure to play his strongest team in most of the pre-World Cup matches, but he will also have to factor in resting certain players and managing the injured.

What is clear from the 15-man group named on Monday, and who isn’t in it, is that this year’s World Cup squad, to be named in early August already, is likely to have a very, very familiar and settled look about it.

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