Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has selected nine uncapped players in his 31-man squad for the Test series against Ireland.
They are Garth April (flyhalf), Ruan Combrinck (wing), Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf), Nic Groom (scrumhalf), Steven Kitshoff (prop), Jaco Kriel (flank), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (flank) and Scarra Ntubeni (hooker).
There are 12 players of colour in the 31-man squad (39%) and seven from the Lions, who were not represented at all in the Boks' 2015 World Cup squad.
Coetzee picked 17 forwards and 14 backs to report for duty on Sunday afternoon for the start of a two week-long preparation camp in Stellenbosch and Cape Town. The squad will gather in Stellenbosch for the first week, before they break for two days and then reassemble on Sunday, 5 June in Cape Town.
'The selection of this squad was based on rewarding form and exposing young and upcoming local players to the Springboks, which is why priority was given to locally-based players,' said Coetzee. 'We have many experienced players still available for selection, but we just felt that the time was right to look at the next generation.'
Coetzee did not name a team captain and said he wanted to work with the squad before making a decision in the week of the first Test.
Several players were not available for selection for the Springbok or SA A squads because of injuries or Springbok Sevens commitments. They are JC Janse van Rensburg, Sti Sithole, Marcell Coetzee, CJ Velleman, Chris Cloete, Schalk Burger, Thembelani Bholi, Cobus Reinach, Jano Vermaak, Elgar Watts, Robert du Preez, Kurt Coleman, Handré Pollard, Harold Vorster, Cornal Hendricks, Andries Coetzee, Dillyn Leyds, Jaco van der Walt (all injuries or illness), as well as Francois Hougaard, Bryan Habana, Juan de Jongh, Seabelo Senatla, Cheslin Kolbe, Warrick Gelant and Siviwe Soyizwapi (all Springbok Sevens).
Furthermore, Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar informed Coetzee that he is not available for selection for the June Tests.
Coetzee added that that four players not included in the Springboks’ match 23 for the first two Tests will be released to the SA A squad for their matches against the England Saxons.
The three Tests between the Springboks and Ireland will take place on 11 June at Newlands in Cape Town, on 18 June at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and on 25 June at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Springbok squad – Garth April (Sharks), Ruan Combrinck (Lions), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Lood de Jager (Cheetahs), Faf de Klerk (Lions), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Nic Groom (Stormers), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Steven Kitshoff (Bordeaux), Siya Kolisi (Stormers), Jaco Kriel (Lions), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Pat Lambie (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Sharks), Francois Louw (Bath), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Lionel Mapoe (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Beast Mtawarira (Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Stormers), Scarra Ntubeni (Stormers), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Rudy Paige (Bulls), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Julian Redelinghuys (Lions), Jan Serfontein (Bulls), Adriaan Strauss (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Toulon), Warren Whiteley (Lions).
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images