Bok door open for URC stars

Jacques Nienaber has not shut the door completely on potentially recalling players from the local franchises for their home Test against Argentina, as the new European season gets under way this weekend. DYLAN JACK reports.

The 2022-23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship will start on Friday, with the Lions hosting the Vodacom Bulls in the first clash involving South African teams on Saturday afternoon.

The Springboks will play their last Rugby Championship Test against Argentina next Saturday, which means that there is a chance for one of the Bulls’ Boks to get a recall for that Test.

Johan Grobbelaar and Sbu Nkosi have both been with the Bok squad before, as has lock Ruan Nortje.

When asked during a media conference ahead of the Buenos Aires Test, Nienaber said that while it would be difficult to bring in a completely fresh player, the Springboks would consider bringing in someone who has been with the squad before.

“It will be difficult,” said Nienaber. “We will only arrive in Durban on Monday morning, probably between 3am and 5am. So, just from a practical point of view, it will be difficult to get somebody in who hasn’t been with the squad, someone who doesn’t know the calls and is not completely in our head in terms of what we are trying to do.

“But, guys who have been with the squad recently? Definitely. It will be much easier for them to slot in.

“Next week will be short on time for someone completely new to the squad to slot in with us.”

A major issue for the Springboks in the Rugby Championship has been bringing in players from the cold, expecting them to play in Test-match conditions with very little domestic game time.

“It’s great for us that the URC is starting again. Players who haven’t played a lot of game minutes for us, after the Rugby Championship, will fall straight in with their clubs, like our international players, who will be released to their clubs,” said Nienaber.

“Their management will happen by their respective clubs and how they see those players performing and when.

“In the South African context, there is good communication between our performance staff and the franchises’ performance staff. For guys with low game minutes, it would be great if they can get some more minutes under the belt before we go on the end-of-year tour.”

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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