Rugby-Springboks recall World Cup winners for Ireland series

  • Rugby
  • Tuesday, 25 Jun 2024

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2023 - South Africa Trophy Tour - FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa - November 2, 2023 South Africa's Siya Kolisi celebrates winning the World Cup during the trophy tour REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

(Reuters) - South Africa have named a squad packed with World Cup winners for their two-test home series against Ireland and one-off fixture against Portugal next month, including Siya Kolisi, fit-again winger Cheslin Kolbe and centre Lukhanyo Am.

Any thoughts that coach Rassie Erasmus may blood young players for the eagerly-anticipated clash with World Cup quarter-finalists Ireland have been put aside, though with an expanded group of 39, several could play against Portugal.

There are three uncapped players, hooker Johan Grobbelaar and Jan-Hendrik Wessels, who can play prop and hooker, and number eight Phepsi Buthelezi but it is otherwise the bulk of players who won last year's World Cup in France.

Erasmus has also named an additional 14 players who will train with the squad with an eye on the future.

"We named the best squad available and with squad depth being one of our key pillars as we build toward to the 2027 Rugby World Cup, we thought it would be beneficial to name a standby squad with a few players who will join us at training sporadically in the next few weeks," Erasmus said in a statement.

A depleted Springbok side thumped Wales 41-13 in a one-off test in London on Saturday, a game that fell outside the international window.

"It’s great to have the overseas-based and Bulls players back in the mix and with many of them being Rugby World Cup winners," Erasmus said.

"They will bring experience and calm heads to the team. Over and above that, some of the young players who were part of our travelling squad to London really impressed us over the last two weeks."

The Springboks have a lengthy injury list, including prop Steven Kitshoff, locks Jean Kleyn and Lood de Jager, and utlility backs Canan Moodie and Damian Willemse.

A decision will be made on the captaincy closer to the first test against Ireland on July 6 in Pretoria. They meet Ireland again in Durban before a test against Portugal in Bloemfontein on July 20.

South Africa squad:

Forwards: Phepsi Buthelezi, Ben-Jason Dixon, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Thomas du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Johan Grobbelaar, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Salmaan Moerat, Franco Mostert, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Evan Roos, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Gerhard Steenekamp, Marco van Staden, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Jasper Wiese.

Backs: Lukhanyo Am, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphelele Fassi, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Wilie le Roux, Manie Libbok, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Morne van den Berg, Edwill van der Merwe, Grant Williams.

(Reporting by Nick Said)

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