Fourie du Preez and Heinrich Brussow were the big omissions from the 32-man Springbok squad to face England in the June Test series.
It was believed that Japan-based scrumhalf Du Preez was informally offered the team captaincy last week from head coach Heyneke Meyer. However, it seems as if the player has made himself unavailable for selection as he’s been left out of the squad. Eighthman Pierre Spies and centre Jean de Villiers should be front-runners for the captaincy.
Cheetahs openside flank Brussow is also a major omission from Meyer’s first official Test squad. His high penalty count this year is a probable reason for his exclusion. Stormers duo Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon can count themselves unlucky as they were overlooked.
Stormers flank Siya Kolisi was not picked. However, he and six other young players – flank Arno Botha (Bulls), prop Frans Malherbe (Stormers), flank CJ Stander (Bulls), centre Francois Venter (Bulls) and scrumhalf Piet van Zyl (Cheetahs) – will train with the Boks during the series. This will allow these players to gain experience in the Test set-up, but they won’t be eligible for selection.
There are nine uncapped players in the squad – flank Marcell Coetzee, wing JJ Engelbrecht, lock Eben Etzebeth, flyhalf Elton Jantjies, lock Juandré Kruger, prop Coenie Oosthuizen, flank Jacques Potgieter, lock Franco van der Merwe and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak.
There are 15 survivours from of the 2011 Bok World Cup squad. Wing Bryan Hanbana is the most experienced player with 74 Test caps.
‘We were always looking to start the season with an experienced squad to face England, but injuries to certain players and the non-availability of others have made it difficult,’ said Meyer.
‘What we’ve lost in experience, we’ve made up in passion and desire to play for the Springboks. We have put together a squad with a nice balance between a number of veterans and players with less experience as we start to build for the rest of the season.
‘Working with these players during our four planning camps this season has been great and really made a very difficult selection process a bit easier. There were a few unlucky players that didn’t make it and they will get opportunities in future as long as they keep on knocking on the door.
‘The nine uncapped players have all put up their hands during Super Rugby this year and we know they have what it takes to succeed at the highest level,’ he continued. ‘We realise that it is impossible to please everyone when it comes to selecting squads like these, but we would really like to see the entire country stand behind us as we take on England.’
Springbok 32-man squad for June Test series:
Backs – Bjorn Basson, Jean de Villiers, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Wynand Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Morne Steyn, Jano Vermaak.
Forwards – Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Ryan Kankowski, Juandre Kruger, Werner Kruger, Beast Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jacques Potgieter, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Pierre Spies, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Franco van der Merwe.