Lions hooker Malcolm Marx and Racing utility back Johan Goosen have been included in the Springboks’ 31-man squad for the Rugby Championship.
Bok coach Allister Coetzee has also recalled Cheetahs flank Oupa Mohoje, Stormers prop Vincent Koch, Stormers centre Juan de Jongh and Worcester scrumhalf Francois Hougaard.
Overall, seven changes have been made to the squad that won the Test series against Ireland in June. Injured players not considered for selection are Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jan Serfontein, Pat Lambie, Handré Pollard, Cobus Reinach and Siya Kolisi. The selection of prop Trevor Nyakane is subject to medical clearance.
The Springbok squad will assemble in stages from Sunday in Johannesburg. The nine Lions players who featured in the Super Rugby final will join on Wednesday with the six overseas-based players and two Blitzbok Olympians, De Jongh and Hougaard, due to join on Sunday, 14 August.
‘I’m excited to get Malcolm Marx involved with the Boks on the back of a very strong Super Rugby season,’ said Coetzee. ‘It’s also great to welcome back Oupa Mohoje and Vincent Koch to the Boks – both of them have worked incredibly hard and played very well recently.
‘Johan Goosen has been in outstanding form for his club in France and gives us a number of options in the backline with his versatility, while Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh and Bryan Habana were previously not available because of Springbok Sevens commitments.
‘We are fortunate to welcome back an experienced player such as Bryan, who will be able to provide great guidance to our young backs, while Juan and Francois also bring vast experience with them.’
The Bok coach explained the decision not to select the experienced winger JP Pietersen and Willie le Roux.
‘JP and I recently held discussions and I have decided to give him a much-needed break because he has played a lot of rugby the past three years. Although he has joined English club Leicester, he will still be available for the Springboks. The same applies to Willie, who has just signed with Wasps.
‘The other players who were part of the squad in June but have missed out on selection, will continue to be part of the process going forward. We have to build depth because this is a long haul and a tough competition, and they are not out of our plans. It is important that a player such as Scarra Ntubeni, for example, gets playing time in the Currie Cup with his provincial team.
‘Losing Pat and Frans to injury is a huge blow as both of them are part of our leadership group. However, Oupa also brings leadership to the squad having captained the SA A side earlier year against the England Saxons and also leading the Cheetahs towards the end of their Super Rugby campaign.’
Meanwhile, Coetzee has decided that Chean Roux will take charge of the Bok defensive coaching duties. Roux, who previously assisted the Boks as part of SA Rugby’s Mobi Unit on refereeing and technical aspects, fills the vacancy left by Jacques Nienaber who recently left to take up a post at Irish club Munster.
Springbok squad – Ruan Combrinck (Lions), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Lood de Jager (Cheetahs), Juan de Jongh (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Lions), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Johan Goosen (Racing 92), Bryan Habana (Toulon), Francois Hougaard (Worcester), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Steven Kitshoff (Bordeaux), Vincent Koch (Stormers), Jaco Kriel (Lions), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Francois Louw (Bath), Lionel Mapoe (Lions), Malcolm Marx (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Oupa Mohoje (Cheetahs), Franco Mostert (Lions), Beast Mtawarira (Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Stormers), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Rudy Paige (Bulls), Julian Redelinghuys (Lions), Morné Steyn (Stade Français), Adriaan Strauss (c, Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Toulon), Warren Whiteley (Lions).
Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images