CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has confirmed the Springboks will only have a full complement of their international-based players on Monday, days ahead of the start of the three-test series against Wales that begins on July 2.
While Wales coach Wayne Pivac will have been working with his players for close to a month by the time the first test is played in Pretoria, the Boks have yet to get their preparations for the series fully underway.
Regular starting flyhalf Handre Pollard has a Top 14 final with Montpellier on Friday, while the likes of number eight Jasper Wiese, who was player of the match for Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final on Saturday, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and lock Lood de Jager have yet to be released by their clubs.
"We don't have any of our Premiership players," Nienaber told reporters on Tuesday. "According to Regulation 9 from World Rugby they only need to be released a week before the first test match, so they will join us on Monday.
"We have been fortunate to get our players from Japan. Sometimes a national union and the clubs agree (to release players early) and sometimes they don't."
The Boks will play in front of their own fans in the Wales series for the first time since they lifted the Rugby World Cup in November 2019, with matches also to be staged in Bloemfontein (July 9) and Cape Town (July 16).
Last year's British & Irish Lions series was played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As things stand stadiums in South Africa may now be filled to 50% of capacity, but a decision will be made by government this week on whether to fully open at 100% with the country having exited its fifth wave of the pandemic.
"It will be phenomenal for us, we've not performed for our country as world champions, so it's going to be massive for us," Nienaber said.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)