Rebuilding Springboks name 4 uncapped players for Europe
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africa on Sunday named four uncapped players for a four-game tour of Europe starting next month, while captain Warren Whiteley remains sidelined with injury.
Coach Allister Coetzee included outside backs Warrick Gelant and Lukhanyo Am, flanker Dan du Preez and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder as the uncapped players in a squad of 34.
Whiteley is still out with a groin injury that saw him miss the end of the France series in June and the entire Rugby Championship. Center Jan Serfontein, one of South Africa’s best players this season, also misses the tour after asking not to be considered so he can settle in at new club Montepellier in France.
Fullback Gelant is a former Junior Springbok and South Africa sevens player. Center Am was given another chance after he was called up in June only to get injured. Dan du Preez joins twin brother Jean-Luc in the squad, although Jean-Luc’s inclusion is subject to him recovering from an ankle injury.
Center Francois Venter, loose forwards Uzair Cassiem and Oupa Mohoje, and props Coenie Oosthuizen and Tendai Mtawarira were recalled.
Lock Eben Etzebeth will continue as captain in Whiteley’s absence.
The Springboks had a terrible tour of Europe last season, losing all three tests they played including a first-ever loss to Italy. South Africa also was hammered 57-0 by New Zealand this year for its worst-ever defeat and while the Boks improved to lose to the All Blacks by a point in their last game of the Rugby Championship, memories of those woeful performances are still fresh.
South Africa will play Ireland, France, Italy and Wales on consecutive weekends starting with the Irish test in Dublin on Nov. 11.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies, loose forward Francois Louw and lock Franco Mostert will not be available for the Wales test because of club commitments. Flanker Siya Kolisi will miss the Italy test because his wife is due to give birth.
Coach Coetzee said the tour was an opportunity to build “depth and experience” ahead of the World Cup in 2019.
“Eight new players were capped so far this season and a total of 19 new international players made their Springbok debuts since the 2015 Rugby World Cup,” Coetzee said. “Our process to rebuild the Bok team and steadily work towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is continuing at a good and satisfying pace.”