Captain John Smit will lead a squad of 27 players drawn from the Springboks’ preliminary Rugby World Cup squad on the away leg of the Castle Tri-Nations Series, it was announced on Friday.
Smit, the most capped international captain in Test rugby, will win his 103rd cap against Australia in Sydney on July 23. A week later the Springboks play New Zealand in Wellington.
The squad features youth and experience, as well as recognising Vodacom Super Rugby form. There are five Rugby World Cup winners in the squad as well as six uncapped players in flyhalf Elton Jantjies, scrumhalf Charl McLeod, loose forward Ashley Johnson and props Coenie Oosthuizen, Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling. All but Greyling have appeared in non-cap matches for the Springboks.
“We’ve rewarded players who have performed outstandingly in Vodacom Super Rugby,” said De Villiers, “although the injury situation has also been critical. But there is a backbone of experience and it means that all our leading players will receive Test exposure this year.”
The squad was selected following medical assessments, which identified that a number of players were carrying injuries and required immediate rehabilitation to avoid the risk of break down before the end of the international year.
The tour squad will assemble in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon and leave for Australia on July 15.
Castle Tri-Nations tour squad:
Gio Aplon – DHL Western Province
Bjorn Basson – Vodacom Blue Bulls
Juan de Jongh – DHL Western Province
Adrian Jacobs – The Sharks
Elton Jantjies – MTN Lions
Patrick Lambie – The Sharks
Charl McLeod – The Sharks
Lwazi Mvovo – The Sharks
Odwa Ndungane – The Sharks
Wynand Olivier – Vodacom Blue Bulls
Ruan Pienaar – Ulster
Morne Steyn – Vodacom Blue Bulls
Heinrich Brüssow – Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Jean Deysel – The Sharks
Dean Greyling – Vodacom Blue Bulls
Alistair Hargreaves – The Sharks
Ryan Kankowski – The Sharks
Werner Kruger – Vodacom Blue Bulls
Ashley Johnson – Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Johann Muller – Ulster
Coenie Oosthuizen – Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Chiliboy Ralepelle – Vodacom Blue Bulls
Danie Rossouw – Vodacom Blue Bulls
John Smit (captain) – The Sharks
Deon Stegmann – Vodacom Blue Bulls
Adriaan Strauss – Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Flip van der Merwe – Vodacom Blue Bulls