Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, announced the squad on Saturday that play Test rugby for the first time since the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan on 2 November 2019, with 29 Rugby World Cup winners and eight uncapped players in the 46-man squad.
The Springboks will line up against Georgia on successive Fridays, 2 and 9 July, before battling it out against the British & Irish Lions in three Tests on 24 and 31 July, and 7 August respectively.
The South Africa “A” team, which will comprise of players from this squad, will also meet the Lions on Wednesday, 14 July.
Morne and Frans Steyn set for second Lions series
Apart from Morné Steyn – who kicked the penalty goal that clinched the series win in 2009 – and Frans Steyn, both of whom were key members of the Springbok team during the 2009 campaign, this year’s series will have extra significance for Duane Vermeulen, who faced the Lions as a member of the Emerging Springbok and DHL WP teams that season.
The entire 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning squad, except for the retired trio of Tendai Mtawarira, Francois Louw and Schalk Brits, and the injured Warrick Gelant, were named in Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber’s squad, and that has led a a selection of betting sites to offer short odds on their triumph.
The eight uncapped players are Joseph Dweba (hooker), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (lock), Jasper Wiese (loose forward), Sanele Nohamba (scrumhalf), Wandisile Simelane (centre), Yaw Penxe, Rosko Specman (both wings) and Aphelele Fassi (fullback).
Seven players in the squad boast 50 or more Test caps, with Eben Etzebeth leading the pack with an impressive 85 Caps, while Morné Steyn – who last featured in the green and gold in 2016 – headlines a list of 10 players who will make a welcome return to the Springbok squad.
“The British & Irish Lions tour occurs once every 12 years so it’s a very special occasion,” said Mr Alexander.
“In most instances, it comes around only once in a Springbok player’s career, so I would like to congratulate the players who have been selected and wish them luck as they prepare to defend their crown.
“The rivalry between the Springboks and the Lions has been fierce, but it is also characterised by a tremendous respect. As the excitement and anticipation builds in South Africa and the United Kingdom for the spectacle, I would also like to express our gratitude to our valued partners for their magnificent support as we continue to navigate our way through these extraordinary times.”
SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said the selection of the squad followed a detailed process, including several alignment camps both locally and abroad, as well as visits by the Bok coaching staff to the various local franchise teams.
🇿🇦 World champions South Africa have named their 46-man squad to face the British & Irish Lions.
8⃣ uncapped players and a whole heap of experience, power and quality. pic.twitter.com/c38epeybvm
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) June 5, 2021
“We have been keeping a close eye on the players’ performances since professional rugby resumed late last season and we followed that up with a series of alignment camps and franchise visits,” said Erasmus.
“We have put together a very talented group of players, and we believe the vast experience in the group will complement the exciting bunch of youngsters.
“Several players have been plying their trade abroad, and that has enabled them to rack up quality game time in top class competitions against world class opposition, many of whom were included in the Lions squad, while the locally-based players have also been able to build up quality game time over a number of competitions.”
Nienaber, who will make his first appearance as Springbok head coach when the team take the field, echoed Erasmus’ sentiments about the quality of the squad, and he looked forward to a memorable start to the international season.
“It is a surreal feeling to name a Springbok squad after such a long absence from international rugby, and the fact that these players will have a chance to measure themselves in such a special tour makes it even more remarkable,” said Nienaber.
“Players such as Frans and Morné have been here before and they can attest to the huge privilege it is to be part of a British & Irish Lions tour, so I am very excited for this squad.
“The squad feature a bunch of Rugby World Cup-winners who know what it takes to perform and be successful at the highest level, as well as a handful of very talented young players who all proved that they deserve an opportunity at this level.”
Springboks’ 46-man squad
Forwards: Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nché, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Joseph Dweba, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Dan du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Jean-Luc du Preez, Rynhardt Elstadt
Backs: Faf de Klerk, Herschel Jantjies, Sanele Nohamba, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies, Handré Pollard, Morné Steyn, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Wandisile Simelane, Frans Steyn, Aphelele Fassi, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Yaw Penxe, Rosko Specman, Damian Willemse