Six uncapped players have been named in the 23-man SA training squad to face a Namibian XV, while Luke Watson has been left out.
Watson’s controversial statements about the Springbok jersey and South African rugby last year have resulted in him being left out of the Bok squad since. His notable omission will have pleased many senior players in the Bok set-up, who did not appreciate the comments.
Morgan Newman, Jano Vermaak, Earl Rose, Jean Deysel, Steven Sykes and Wian du Preez are the rookies while Bulls players were not considered for the 29 May fixture in Windhoek due to Super 14 commitments.
Ruan Pienaar and prop Deon Carstens have been ruled out due to injury, while Jaque Fourie is getting married on 30 May and wasn’t considered.
Despite Pienaar’s injury coach Peter de Villiers maintained the flyhalf cupboard is full, with Rose or Peter Grant likely to assume the role in this match.
‘Ruan is expected to be out for about three weeks and we will closely monitor his progress,’ said De Villiers. ‘I am hoping that he will be fit to play in the first Test against the Lions in Durban but we are fortunate in that we have adequate cover in the flyhalf position if it is required.’
There is also no place for Stefan Terblanche with JP Pietersen, Odwa Ndungane or Rose likely to play fullback, while John Smit is the only tighthead in the group with Jannie du Plessis and Brian Mujati out of favour.
Jean de Villiers, Andries Bekker and Schalk Burger could make their returns from injury in next Friday’s fixture.
‘Without the opportunity of a few warm-up games we must ensure that we get the most out of this match, regardless of the fact that some players are not in attendance,’ said De Villiers. ‘After this match we will assemble a Springbok squad that will have three weeks to prepare for the first Lions test and we have to maximise the time we have at our disposal.’
The Bok squad for the Lions series will be announced on 1 June.
SA Training Squad – Andries Bekker, Heinrich Brüssow, Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers, Jean Deysel, Bismarck Du Plessis, Wian Du Preez, Peter Grant, Adi Jacobs, Ricky Januarie, Ryan Kankowski, Tendai Mtawarira, Johan Muller, Odwa Ndungane, Morgan Newman, Jongi Nokwe, JP Pietersen, Earl Rose, John Smit (c), Juan Smith, Adriaan Strauss, Steven Sykes, Jano Vermaak.