Bok coach sticks with tried and tested team

National coach Jake White named a predictable 28-man Springbok squad at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday for the tour of Argentina, Wales and France next month.

White stuck mostly to his tried and tested charges for what will undoubtedly be a gruelling three-Test tour, but handed comeback places to Lions fullback Conrad Jantjes and Western Province scrumhalf Bolla Conradie.

Jantjes last played for the Springboks in 2001 under Harry Viljoen, earning eight Test caps during which he scored two tries.

A combination of a loss of form and injury kept the 25-year-old out of the international fold, but a superb Currie Cup campaign for the Lions obviously caught the eye of the national selectors.

He is in as replacement for veteran wing Breyton Paulse, who has club commitments in France. Jantjes has also been preferred to perennial Bok nearly-man Brent Russell, who has been left out of the squad completely.

Jantjes’ strength is that he can cover both wings and fullback, which may come in handy if White hopes to rest some players for a Test or two.

Conradie, who was an instrumental part of the Tri-Nations-winning Boks of 2004 was part of the mix this year, but never actually got onto the field.
He is in as replacement for the injured Ricky Januarie.

Others who were not included due to injury or other commitments were veteran wing Breyton Paulse, flyhalf Jaco van der Westhuyzen, prop Gurthro Steenkamp, wing Ashwin Willemse, centre Marius Joubert and loose-forward Joe van Niekerk. Van Niekerk has a hand injury picked up in the Currie Cup semifinal against the Cheetahs last weekend and will have to undergo surgery.

The squad picked is, in the eyes of White and company at least, the strongest possible team, but fatigue may play a role towards the end of the tour, especially for the players involved in the epic Currie Cup final.

Loosehead prop Os du Randt, who made a huge contribution to the Cheetahs’ shock come-from-behind Currie Cup final victory over the Bulls was included in the squad after it seemed he would not be passed fit.

Hooker John Smit, meanwhile, will lead the side and should earn his 50th Test cap when the team play Six Nations champions Wales at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff on November 19.

The first Test is against Argentina—who will be at full strength—on November 5, before the team have a break and then take on Wales and France in Paris on consecutive weekends.

Springbok squad to tour Argentina, Wales and France

Forwards: Eddie Andrews, Bakkies Botha, Gary Botha, Schalk Burger, Jacques Cronje, Os du Randt, Victor Matfield, Lawrence Sephaka, Hanyani Shimange, John Smit (captain), Solly Tyibilika, Danie Rossouw, Juan Smith, Albert van den Berg, CJ van der Linde, Pedrie Wannenburg.

Backs: De Wet Barry, Tonderai Chavhanga, Michael Claassens, Bolla Conradie, Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Conrad Jantjes, Wayne Julies, Percy Montgomery, Andre Pretorius. - Sapa