Springboks alignment camp breakdown: New faces, omissions, surprises, World Cup winners, teams represented and more

Jared Wright
Stormers' back-rower Hacjivah Dayimani, Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar, Lions scrum-half Sanele Nohamba and Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus.

Stormers' back-rower Hacjivah Dayimani, Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar, Lions scrum-half Sanele Nohamba and Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus.

Rassie Erasmus has invited 43 players to the first Springboks alignment camp of 2024, with 16 uncapped players included.

With the camp set to take place during the first week of March, we give you a detailed rundown of the players invited and those who weren’t, highlighting the new faces, omissions, surprise inclusions, World Cup winners, teams represented and why there are just four overseas-based stars.

What is the purpose of the alignment camp?

Before we get stuck in, let’s just go over the purpose of the camp. Simply put, it’s in the name ‘alignment camp’. It is to allow the coaches to lay their plans and structures for the year ahead and beyond.

This will be the first of three alignment camps before the upcoming Test season, and while the other two camps may include training sessions, this one will not, as the coaches get the opportunity to plot their plans for the 2024 season.

“We will have the opportunity to present solid structures and the Springbok culture and way of doing things to the invited players,” Erasmus explained in a SA Rugby statement.

“The focus at this camp will be to get everyone on the same page for the 2024 season, and we believe this will lay a good foundation for us looking forward.”

New faces

In total, 16 uncapped players have been invited to the camp as Erasmus takes stock of the local talents and gets them up to speed with how the Springboks operate.

Included in this category are players who have been involved with the set-up before, both with the Springboks – but didn’t earn a cap – as well as South Africa A team, such as Lions half-back Sanele Nohamba and Stormers pair Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Suleiman Hartzenberg.

However, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Quan Horn, Neethling Fouche and Marnus van der Merwe will all get their first taste of Springbok rugby.

Erasmus said that he has rewarded those “who have proven their worth at provincial level”, and that is evident with the call-up of several players, notably Wessels, Horn, Fouche and Nohamba, but it is also the case for Andre-Hugo Venter, Cameron Hanekom, Ruben van Heerden and Ruan Venter.

The 16 uncapped players feature nine forwards and seven backs.

The nine forwards are Fouche, Johan Grobbelaar, Celimpilo Gumede, Hanekom, Venter, Marnus van der Merwe, Van Heerden, Venter and Wessels.

And the seven backs are Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Hartzenberg, Jordan Hendrikse, Horn, Nohamba, Morne van den Berg and Van Wyk.


Hacjivah Dayimani on the charge for the Stormers against the Sharks.

Erasmus has certainly cast a wide net with his first alignment camp, but he did need to prioritise certain selections, and there are some notable absentees who have been performing well for their unions.

Stormers back-rower Hacjivah Dayimani will be the name that many expected to appear on the list as he continues to impress with the Cape-based side. However, he does not crack the final 43 with his clubmates Evan Roos and Hanekom preferred.

While Dayimani is the headline omission, he is not the only one as Bulls scrum-half Embrose Papier has also enjoyed rich form recently but has not cracked the nod despite featuring for the Boks during Erasmus’ first tenure as head coach. Papier’s Bulls teammates Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima, and Marcell Coetzee will also be disappointed that they didn’t get an invite.

Many of the 2023 World Cup-winning Springboks who are based locally have been invited to the camp, but one notable absentee from that group is 37-year-old Deon Fourie, who played 77 minutes off the bench in the final against New Zealand.

Finally, Joseph Dweba was a regular squad member over the past four years but has seemingly slipped down the pecking order for the Springboks since missing out on a place in the World Cup squad and hasn’t been invited either as Erasmus takes stock of the younger hookers across the country.

It’s worth mentioning that the Bok coaches have stressed previously that alignment camps do not guarantee selection and that players who are not invited are not out of the selection frame.

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Due to the large number of players invited to the camp, it is jam-packed with surprising call-ups but perhaps none so as much as Cheetahs hooker Marnus van der Merwe.

The 27-year-old is the only non-URC contracted player invited to the camp, as Erasmus shows that he is paying attention to the smaller teams in South Africa. The Bok boss highlighted hooker as an area of concern in the future, and he is certainly taking stock.

Gumede has quietly gone about his work since making the switch to the Bulls from the Sharks, but it has not gone unnoticed by the coaching team. The hard-working and talented back-rower ticks a lot of the boxes the Springboks want.

Jordan Hendrikse has been playing second fiddle to Nohamba as the Lions’ fly-half, but the Boks see his potential and obviously want to have a closer look at him while his clubmate Van den Berg has managed to wiggle his way through the crowded scrum-half stocks enough to stand out and get a look-in.

World Cup winners

Springbok star Eben Etzebeth with his winners medal.

It may just be an alignment camp, but Erasmus is not wasting the IP of the World Cup-winning squad and has included 19 members of the 36 players who were part of the side’s success last year.

Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Malcolm Marx, Ox Nche, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Lukhanyo Am, Faf de Klerk, Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jaden Hendrikse, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Manie Libbok, Makazole Mapimpi, Canan Moodie and Damian Willemse have all been invited to the camp where they will share their insight. 2019 Rugby World Cup winner Herschel Jantjies is also among those included.


Outside of the new caps and the World Cup winners, there are a host of players who will be aiming to add to their cap tally in 2024.

Roos and Gerhard Steenekamp both earned caps in 2023 but did not make the World Cup squad, the former earning his Test debut last year, but have been invited to the camp.

They are joined by Elrigh Louw, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Salmaan Moerat and Ruan Nortje, who all earned Test debuts in 2021 but have not featured for the Springboks since.

Finally, Wilco Louw has been in and out of the squad in recent years, having last won a cap in 2021, but will be keen to change that in 2024 after linking up with the Bulls.

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Overseas-based players?

Some may be wondering where Siya Kolisi, Jasper Wiese, Handre Pollard, Steven Kitshoff, Cheslin Kolbe and many others are.

Quite simply, they have not been invited due to their club commitments abroad. While the likes of Smith, De Klerk, Marx and Kriel feature, it’s purely just because they are currently doing their rehabilitation from injuries in South Africa and are available to attend with no on-field training taking place.

This is standard practice for the Springbok alignment camps and does not indicate non-selection or a snub.

Teams represented

12 - Bulls 11 - Stormers 9 - Sharks 6 - Lions 4 - Japan-based 1 - Cheetahs

Bulls: Johan Grobbelaar, Celimpilo Gumede, Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Wilco Louw, Ruan Nortje, Gerhard Steenekamp, Marco van Staden, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie

Stormers: Neethling Fouche, Andre-Hugo Venter, Frans Malherbe, Salmaan Moerat, Evan Roos, Ruben van Heerden, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Herschel Jantjies, Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse

Sharks: Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Ox Nche, Lukhanyo Am, Jaden Hendrikse, Makazole Mapimpi and Grant Williams

Lions: Ruan Venter, Jordan Hendrikse, Quan Horn, Sanele Nohamba, Morne van den Berg, Henco van Wyk

Japan-based players: Malcolm Marx, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel

Cheetahs: Marnus van der Merwe

READ MORE: Siya Kolisi explains why ‘everybody buys into’ Rassie Erasmus’ plans