Coach Jacques Nienaber has invited 17 players to the Springbok camp assembling in Pretoria on Monday as the world champions prepare to host Wales in July.
Sharks scrumhalf Grant Williams and loosehead prop Ntuthuko Mchunu are the two uncapped players in the group. Williams is a familiar face in the national set-up having been a member of the Rugby Championship squad and UK tour last year, while Mchunu is a newcomer to the national group.
Two injured players – Montpellier scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen – will also join the camp, where they will continue their rehabilitation with an eye on possible selection later in the season and the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
With the Stormers and Bulls having advanced to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-finals next weekend, the training squad will be expanded as leading URC players complete their commitments, along with a handful of European-based players.
Nienaber was excited about getting down to business with just under four weeks to go before the Boks face Wales at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria to kickstart a three-Test series.
“Most of these players were together for a large part of the 2021 season and they know each other well on and off the field, so we are confident that they will set the tone,” he said.
“We know what Grant can do, he showed his class at our training sessions last season, and he knows our structures and systems well, while Ntuthuko has really improved a lot over the last year, and we are excited to work with him after showing what he can do for the Sharks this season.”
Nienaber has emphasised the importance of quality training sessions: “We have worked hard on ensuring that we have a well-developed squad that syncs quickly, so we will work as hard as possible in the next few weeks to get the structures going so that the other invited players can slot in easily.
“There are several familiar faces in the group and a few players who have been out of the set-up for a while, but we have our goals for this season and with an eye on the Rugby World Cup, so from a coaching perspective it is important that we know what talent we have across the board.
“We will announce our official squad later in the month once we have a clearer indication of which players are available and the injury status of all the players. But the important thing is that we get going with our on-field preparations as soon as possible so that we are ready to return to action when the series begins.”
The Boks host Wales in July and then launch into the Rugby Championship, where they will line up against the All Blacks in back-to-back home Tests, followed by a tour to Australia and Argentina. They will then return home for their final Test against the Pumas in Durban in September.
Players invited to Springbok preparation camp in Pretoria:Props:
Thomas du Toit (Sharks)
Ntuthuko Mchunu (Sharks)
Ox Nche (Sharks)
Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears)
Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz)
Siya Kolisi (Sharks)
Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo)
Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)
Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks)
Grant Williams (Sharks)
Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes)
Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)
Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles)
Aphelele Fassi (Sharks)
Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz)
Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks)
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images