Twenty contracted Springboks will undergo a conditioning programme between the end of the Tri-Nations and the Currie Cup play-offs.
As reported by this website in January, an elite group of players will not feature in the domestic competition until the semi-finals and final. Saru confirmed the news on Friday, and added that the move to condition 20 contracted players was geared towards World Cup success in 2011.
‘We undertook a similar programme in 2006 and were satisfied with the results and have again had buy-in from the provincial unions and our competition sponsor, Absa and from SuperSport,’ said Andy Marinos, manager of national teams. ‘The significant difference this time is that the players will appear in the knockout stages of the Absa Currie Cup – something that didn’t happen in 2006.
‘That was a strategic decision as we wanted to give the players some game time before the end-of-season tour, which will be deliberately approaching as if it were a World Cup campaign.’
The Boks finish their Tri-Nations campaign on 4 September, and those that are not among the selected group will play for their provinces.
Western Province look likely to benefit from the return of Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Francois Louw and Gio Aplon. They’ll receive a second wave of Boks a month later, assuming that they qualify for the play-offs.
After the Tri-Nations, the Bulls should have Francois Hougaard and Zane Kirchner back to boost their backline.
Strangely, coach Peter de Villiers has included several players with long-term injuries in the group of 20, players like Heinrich Brussow and Fourie du Preez who are not available for the Tri-Nations nor the Grand Slam tour.
Jean de Villiers may have been excluded due to his lack of game time at a South African union, but their are a couple of other injured players who could do with an extended run. Juan Smith has missed the Incoming Tours as well as the Australasian leg of the Tri-Nations. The same goes for Bismarck du Plessis, who is currently recovering from a neck injury.
Ruan Pienaar is also in the contracted group despite reports that he’ll take up a contract with Irish club Ulster at the end of the year.
The contracted Springboks are: Andries Bekker, Bakkies Botha, Heinrich Brüssow, Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Adrian Jacobs, Ricky Januarie, Tendai Mtawarira, Victor Matfield, Wynand Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Danie Rossouw, John Smit, Juan Smith, Morné Steyn and Pierre Spies.