A group of players not involved in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoffs will join the first of a three-week Springbok preparation camp from Sunday, ahead of the July clashes with Wales.
With three SA franchises in the URC quarter-finals this weekend, and only a handful of players being free from their club commitments, Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has opted to only announce his squad for the Test series later next month.
Selected local players will also be invited to join the preparation camps as their respective franchises’ URC campaigns come to an end. The available players will participate in a series of training sessions over the next three weeks.
The training squad will be based in Pretoria until 23 June, before switching base to Johannesburg where they will prepare for their opening Test against Wales, which will be hosted at Loftus Versfeld on 2 July. Their remaining two Tests against Wales will be in Bloemfontein and Cape Town on 9 and 16 July, respectively.
This will be followed by a one-week break before the team gathers in Mpumalanga to kick off their preparations for the back-to-back Rugby Championship Tests against the All Blacks in Nelspruit and Johannesburg on 6 and 13 August.
The Boks will then travel to Australia for two Tests and one in Argentina before they wrap up the Rugby Championship in Durban on 24 September.
“After months of preparation by the coaches off the field, we are excited to finally return to the field and to put our learnings into practice,” said Nienaber. “We will start our preparations with a group of invited available players, to ensure that we can deliver quality training sessions, and as more players become available following their URC campaigns, they will join the squad.
“We also have to be cognisant of the fact that we are building toward to the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and that every training session and match we participate in, needs to be in the back of our minds.”
Nienaber was excited about the prospect of facing Wales: “They will be inspired to show what they can do in this series. One only has to look at the history books to see how close matches between these nations have been over the years, so we have to hit the ground running in July if we want to win the series and get the season off to the desired start.”