Opportunity for Bok hopefuls

Duane Vermeulen says this Saturday’s Springbok ‘trials’ will present an opportunity for players to impress the national coaches in more ways than one, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

A host of up-and-coming players, along with some senior Springboks, will be in action when two 25-man squads head into action at Newlands this Saturday.

In a sense, it will serve as a form of national trials, with the Bok coaches having admitted there will be an opportunity for players to put themselves on the Test radar as they continue to plan for the possibility of competing in the revised Rugby Championship later this year.

Although it does seem increasingly unlikely that all hurdles will be overcome for the Boks to be able to defend their Rugby Championship title, there would be a need for an enlarged squad to be selected if South Africa were given the green light to travel to Australia.

READ: Bok coaches raise Rugby Champs concerns

Speaking to the media via an online conference on Tuesday, Vermeulen said there were a number of important objectives that players could focus on going into this Saturday’s one-off game.

‘The most important thing for us is just working on our match fitness going into a Currie Cup season, and there are a lot of youngsters who have been selected and now have an opportunity to display their skills on a bigger platform. Whenever we get together again as a Springbok squad that could stand them in good stead.

‘There are guys like Arno Botha who have been in the fold before, and now they’re back in the mix and getting another opportunity. I think it would be nice for the coaches to see what they can do, and if they still have the burning desire to play for the Boks.

‘Rassie [Erasmus] and Jacques [Nienaber] always talk about being a warrior, and they’ll want to see who has that warrior spirit in them, and then from there you can always develop a few different skills once you’re in the Springbok set-up.’

Vermeulen said players knew the Springboks’ participation in the Rugby Championship was out of their control, and so the main priority would remain centred around getting back up to speed whenever the opportunity arose to get game time under the belt.

‘From our side as players you have to be adaptable if we get a chance to play. From our side, we are just getting used to things, but we can only focus on what we can control. And that’s what’s happening in the now, such as preparing our bodies to be physically ready. We’re focusing on the Currie Cup, which is confirmed, and not thinking too far ahead.

‘If the Rugby Championship did go ahead, though, we would be going in with a bit of a disadvantage as we are just starting a competition while in Australia and New Zealand they’ve already finished theirs,’ he added. ‘It would be difficult, as there was talk from the medical side that you’d need to ideally have played 400-plus minutes before going into an international competition, but as I said, there are others who will decide the way forward.’

Green Team: 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Subs: Schalk Erasmus, Thomas du Toit, Luan de Bruin, Teboho Mohoje, Juarno Augustus, Junior Pokomela, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Jeremy Ward, Mnombo Zwelindaba.

Team commissioner: Rassie Erasmus
Team coach: Mzwandile Stick

Gold Team: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: Dylan Richardson, Dylan Smith, Carlu Sadie, Jason Jenkins, James Venter, Vincent Tshituka, Jaden Hendrikse, Curwin Bosch, Werner Kok, Manual Rass.

Team commissioner: Jacques Nienaber
Team coach: Deon Davids

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Craig Lewis