Boks in camp as they prepare for international season and Rugby World Cup
“We have a small group of players at this camp, but this affords us the luxury of giving them special attention."
Lukhanyo Am is one of 15 players attending a Springbok training camp this week. Picture: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images
Members of the Springbok squad made the big switch to Test mode on Wednesday as they returned to the training field in Durban at the first of two preparation camps this month as the national team starts winding up towards the international campaign and the Rugby World Cup in France in September.
This camp, which includes 15 players, will conclude on Friday, while the second preparation camp – which will also feature players from the Stormers, who are preparing to face Munster in the United Rugby Championship final next weekend – will run from 29-31 May.
The group of players – which includes the likes of centre Lukhanyo Am, wing Makazole Mapimpi, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, utility forward Kwagga Smith and fullback Willie le Roux – assembled in Durban on Tuesday evening and got straight into the swing of things on Wednesday morning with field training sessions, gym and team meetings.
They will have a further two field training sessions on Thursday and one on Friday before returning home.
“It was fantastic to see how excited the players and members of team management were to return to the national set-up when we arrived in Durban,” said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
“This is a massive season for us and judging by the players’ enthusiasm to get back to the training field, we are excited about the journey ahead as we prepare for the Rugby Championship, our Rugby World Cup warm-up matches and the international showpiece in France.
“With these players having completed their franchise and club commitments, they can now turn their attention fully to the international season.”
Nienaber added: “We have a small group of players at this camp, but this affords us the luxury of giving them special attention. As we said at our first training camp in February, every minute with the players is crucial for us to get our structures and systems in place to ensure that we peak at the right time during the World Cup.
“We’ll have a bigger group of players at the next camp and at our Rugby Championship training camp in June, but this week will assist us greatly in putting the groundwork in place.
“Having a few injured players here such as Siya (Kolisi) and Eben (Etzebeth) is also a bonus, as they’ll participate in all our team meetings, while our medical team have already started working with them.”
World Cup build-up
The Springboks will begin their official preparations for the Rugby Championship at a training camp in Pretoria between 12-30 June. They will kick off their 2023 international season against Australia at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 8 July.
The second Test of the condensed version of the Rugby Championship is against the All Blacks at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland (15 July), before the Boks will return to South Africa for the closing match of the competition against Argentina in Johannesburg (29 July).
The Boks will also play three Rugby World Cup warm-up matches, against Argentina in Buenos Aires (5 August), Wales in Cardiff (19 August) and New Zealand in London (25 August).
They will then make their way to France for the international extravaganza where they face Scotland in their opening match in Marseille on 10 September.