Steyn back for Boks

Frans Steyn has been included in an extended Springbok squad that has eight uncapped players.

Steyn last played for the Boks against the World XV last year, before withdrawing because of a contractual dispute with Saru.

Others who are back in the Bok fold after not featuring in any Tests last year, are Elton Jantjies, Jaque Fourie, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Heinke van der Merwe.

The eight uncapped players in the squad for the match against the World XV and the Rugby Championship are Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Rudy Paige, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel, Franco Mostert and Lionel Mapoe.

Notable omissions are Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies, Jaco Kriel and Nizaam Carr.

The currently injured players included in the squad are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Mapoe, Brüssow, Du Toit, Steyn, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, Jaque Fourie, Jan Serfontein and Fourie du Preez. The latter suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week.

'It’s a long list of injured players but all of them are in the selection frame and we’d like to work with them to assist with their rehabilitation,' said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

'Some of them are close to full fitness and they will start training as soon as possible. We’ll assess and manage all the injured players individually with their return to play in mind and will do what is the best for the player and the team, even if it means that some of them play for their clubs or provinces if deemed necessary by our medical team and in consultation with their unions.

'Coenie Oosthuizen has been selected, but he has a neck injury which will rule him out of joining the squad immediately. We will wait for medical clarity to ensure we do what is best for Coenie before a decision is made on the way forward.

'Even though Jaque Fourie announced that he had retired from Test rugby late last year, we have had positive talks with him and his club, Kobe in Japan, and an agreement was reached that he will be available for one last season of Test rugby. As soon as he’s back to full fitness, we’ll consider him for selection.

'Jean de Villiers’s rehabilitation is going very well but his return to play will be strictly monitored before an announcement in this regard is made.'

Ntubeni (hooker), Paige (scrumhalf) and Mapoe (outside back) have been part of Springbok tour squads before, but this will be the first involvement at international level for De Klerk (scrumhalf), as well as Mostert (lock), Kitshoff and Koch (both props).

Meyer added that Vodacom Super Rugby form weighed heavily and as always there were a number of players who were desperately close to selection, but just missed out in the end.

'This is testament to the great depth we’ve managed to build in most positions over the last few years. It’s good to know we have players outside this squad who will be able to slot in should it be necessary.

'Scarra has been with us before and he has done a great job specifically in the scrums with Vincent, Steven and Frans Malherbe for the Stormers this year. Lionel, Franco, Faf and Elton have been part of the ever-improving Lions, while Rudy and Jesse grabbed their opportunities for the Bulls this season.'

Meyer added that he was pleased to have Van der Merwe, Du Toit, Brüssow, Steyn and Fourie back with the Springboks.

'They are players with international experience and we know what they can do. It will be great to welcome them back into the Springbok fold and I know they will add value. It was great to see players such as Morné, Heinke, Bryan, Schalk Brits and Francois play in and win finals with their clubs in Europe.'

'We also talked to Andries Bekker as we wanted to consider him for selection, but upon a request from his club in Japan he was ultimately not picked for the squad at this stage. Hopefully he will be available at a later stage during the season.

'Flip van der Merwe was on our radar but ultimately he has decided to rule himself out of Springbok contention.'

Springbok squad (franchise/club, position, caps):

Willem Alberts, Sharks, Loose forward, 32
Schalk Brits, Saracens, Hooker, 7
Schalk Burger, Stormers/Suntory, Loose forward ,75
Marcell Coetzee, Sharks, Loose forward, 26
Damian de Allende, Stormers, Centre, 3
Faf de Klerk, Lions/Pumas, Scrumhalf, 0
Bismarck du Plessis, Sharks, Hooker, 70
Jannie du Plessis, Sharks, Prop, 62
Eben Etzebeth, Stormers, Lock, 33
Elton Jantjies, Lions, Flyhalf, 2
Bryan Habana, Toulon, Wing, 106
Cornal Hendricks, Cheetahs, Wing, 11
Zane Kirchner, Leinster, Wing/Fullback, 29
Steven Kitshoff, Stormers, Prop, 0
Vincent Koch, Stormers/Pumas, Prop, 0
Siya Kolisi, Stormers, Loose forward, 10
Jesse Kriel, Bulls, Fullback, 0
Willie le Roux, Cheetahs, Fullback/Wing, 25
Francois Louw, Bath, Loose forward, 34
Frans Malherbe, Stormers, Prop, 4
Victor Matfield, Bulls, Lock, 121
Teboho Mohoje, Cheetahs, Loose forward, 7
Franco Mostert, Lions, Lock, 0
Tendai Mtawarira, Sharks, Prop, 64
Lwazi Mvovo, Sharks, Wing, 10
Scarra Ntubeni, Stormers, Hooker, 0
Trevor Nyakane, Bulls, Prop, 13
Rudy Paige, Bulls, Scrumhalf, 0
Ruan Pienaar, Ulster, Scrumhalf, 80
JP Pietersen, Sharks, Centre/Wing, 59
Handré Pollard, Bulls, Flyhalf, 9
Morné Steyn, Stade Francais, Flyhalf, 59
Adriaan Strauss, Bulls, Hooker, 44
Heinke van der Merwe, Stade Francais, Prop, 4
Marcel van der Merwe, Bulls, Prop, 4
Warren Whiteley, Lions, Loose forward, 2

Injured/conditioning squad:

Heinrich Brüssow, Cheetahs/Docomo, Loose forward, 20
Lood de Jager, Cheetahs, Lock, 9
Jean de Villiers, Stormers, Centre, 106
Fourie du Preez, Suntory, Scrumhalf, 70
Pieter-Steph du Toit, Sharks, Lock, 2
Jaque Fourie, Kobe, Centre, 72
Patrick Lambie, Sharks, Flyhalf/Fullback, 40
Lionel Mapoe, Lions, Centre, 0
Coenie Oosthuizen, Cheetahs, Prop, 21
Cobus Reinach, Sharks, Scrumhalf, 6
Jan Serfontein, Bulls, Centre, 20
Frans Steyn, Sharks, Centre, 53
Duane Vermeulen, Stormers, No 8, 29

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Photo: Chris Ricco BackpagePix

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Simon Borchardt