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Rugby | Springboks

Serfontein, Du Toit become Bok squad bolters



Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer gave a glimpse of his plans for the upcoming international season as he named a 36-man training squad that included promising young Baby Boks Jan Serfontein and Pieter-Steph du Toit for the first national training camp ahead of the Castle Lager Incoming Series in June.

The camp, to be held in Cape Town from 14 to 16 April, is the first of two training camps, and did not consider any players from the Kings squad.

Serfontein, who was the IRB Junior Player of the year in 2012, and Du Toit, who has excelled this season for the Sharks in Vodacom Super Rugby both got the nod along with uncapped Robert Ebersohn, himself a rock in the Cheetahs success in Super Rugby this season.

But despite some excellent form, there was no place for Heinrich Brussow and Willie le Roux, both Cheetahs who have looked good, while Andries Bekker was not considered as his Japanese contract has ruled him out of selection in June. Keegan Daniel, Cobus Reinach, Piet van Zyl and Gio Aplon all missed out on selection as well.

While a number of injured players were invited, Stormers fullback Jaco Taute was also not considered because of his injury, while Boks heading overseas at the end of Super Rugby – Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn and Juandre Kruger – were included as they will be available for the incoming test matches.

With the squad, Meyer also give little indication if he will use overseas-based players such as Ruan Pienaar once again, with those likely to only be included in the final squad for the tests that fall within the IRB Rule 9.

Interestingly Meyer also wanted to include impressive Baby Bok Handre Pollard, who was one of the stars in Tuks’ Varsity Cup victory on Monday, but it was decided to leave him to tour with the SA under-20 squad to Argentina this month.

“With minimal time to prepare for the series involving Italy, Scotland and Samoa, we’ve approached the franchises, in line with the IRB Regulations, to ask for their assistance with these two camps,” said Meyer in a SARU statement.

“It’s important to keep continuity and it was very difficult to select only 35 players, as there are many more that are currently playing great rugby.

“There have been a number of new faces that have put up their hands this year, such as Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jan Serfontein and Robert Ebersohn, while we also have a high number of players out with injuries, but who will be available for the tests in June.

“This group is by no means a final one for the June tests and could still change in the coming months. There are other players that impressed me in the last couple of weeks and if they continue to keep up their form I will look at them for the second camp.”

Meyer and his assistant coaches have been travelling across South Africa since the start of Vodacom Super Rugby, visiting franchises and sharing information with the franchise coaches and senior players.

“Last year we didn’t have any time to sit with coaches at the various franchises and share ideas,” said Meyer.

“They work with our top players on a daily basis and know them best, which makes their thoughts and insights very important to the national cause. I’ve been very well received and appreciated the time they gave me and the rest of the coaching team. I’ve learnt a lot from all of the franchises and hopefully we added some value to them as well.”

Meyer’s visit to the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth was postponed on their request and will happen as soon as possible after their return from Australia. The Kings return from their Australasian tour this weekend and were not considered for this camp, but will be in contention for the second planned training camp, at the end of May in Durban.

Players invited to the first Springbok training camp of 2013:

Players invited to the first Springbok training camp of 2013:

Forwards: Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pat Cilliers, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Juandré Kruger, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Arno Botha, Duane Vermeulen, Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski.

Backs: Jano Vermaak, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Morné Steyn, Elton Jantjies, Jean de Villiers, Frans Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Jan Serfontein, Robert Ebersohn, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Raymond Rhule, JP Pietersen, Bjorn Basson, Zane Kirchner.

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