Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has welcomed back experienced players Duane Vermeulen and Faf de Klerk, who will return from injury against Australia on Sunday.
Nienaber was pleased to have a handful of players back from injury as the Springboks embark on a challenging four-week stretch to defend their Rugby Championship title, with back-to-back Tests against Australia before successive encounters with New Zealand.
“We have been following the progress of the injured players on a daily basis, so we knew that we would be in a position to select most of them for this match,” said Nienaber.
“Duane has played an active role off the field in our team meetings and with the analysis of the opposition, and he has also provided guidance at training. He returned to full training when we arrived in Australia, so he has been in the thick of things for a while now.
“Duane, Faf and Herschel are Rugby World Cup winners, and so is Eben, who is back after we rotated him to manage his workload, while Marco has made a strong impact on the field this season as well, so we are pleased to have them back in the fold.
“Australia pose a strong threat with their running rugby and they like to keep the ball in play. They will also be playing in front of a charged-up home crowd, so it will be good to have these experienced players back as they know what it takes to perform in big matches.
“Unfortunately, we lost Cheslin to injury, but we are fortunate to have Sbu who steps in. He’s been working hard at training and he is eager to get back on the field.”
With the Springboks’ last Test being close to three weeks ago, Nienaber said it was important for the team to hit the ground running against Australia to maintain the momentum they’ve built up this season.
“We had sufficient time since our last Test to give the players a break after the physically taxing start to the season, and to work in a hard conditioning week before we tackle the remaining four Castle Lager Rugby Championship matches,” said Nienaber.
“We will be tested thoroughly in the next four weeks, so we have to be up for the challenge mentally and physically. There are also trophies such as the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate and the Freedom Cup up for grabs, so we will prepare well and give our best on the field.”
Luke Pearce (England) has been appointed as the match referee, with Australia’s Damon Murphy and Jordan Way serving as assistant referees, and England’s Matthew Carley will be the TMO.
Photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP