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02 Nov 2009 08:22
Coach Peter de Villiers warned his Springbok stars that they faced tough Tests in France, Italy and Ireland during November.
He was speaking after naming a 37-strong squad, including nine new caps, for the traditional end-of-season tour to Europe that includes matches against English clubs Leicester Tigers and Saracens.
“We will go on tour with a strong core of players who have reached great heights this year, but the squad is under no illusions about the challenges it faces.
“France beat the All Blacks in New Zealand this year and are always tough opponents, Italy were competitive away to the All Blacks and Wallabies, while Ireland are the reigning Six-Nations champions.
“We do have a fairly settled Test team that boasts a significant number of caps and is experienced with some very cool heads,” he said after watching the Blue Bulls defeat the Free State Cheetahs 36-24 in the Currie Cup final.
“But what the Springboks have achieved so far will have little bearing and we will be starting from scratch as we try to put the seal on a very successful season.”
The reigning world champions overcame the British and Irish Lions 2-1 in a mid-year three-Test series before winning five of six matches against New Zealand and Australia to lift the Tri-Nations title.
Full-back Francois Steyn, centre Jean de Villiers, scrum-half Ricky Januarie, lock Johann Muller and flanker Juan Smith are missing from the Tri-Nations squad.
South Africa do not consider foreign-based players which ruled out Steyn, a recent arrival at Paris club Racing-Metro, and De Villiers, who joined Irish province and ex-European champions Munster.
Consistently outstanding Smith is injured, Januarie has lost his place in the Western Province starting line-up and Coastal Sharks stalwart Muller only returned recently from an injury lay-off.
Coach De Villiers, who succeeded Jake White after South Africa defeated England in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final to become the first black placed in charge of the green and gold, chose nine uncapped players.
They include wing Francois Hougaard, scorer of the first Bulls try against the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld, and number eight Ashley Johnson, who had an outstanding Currie Cup season for the Free State side.
Bulls first-choice hooker Derick Kuun did not make the tour party, but his understudies Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bandise Maku did, although incumbent Bismarck du Plessis is the likely Test choice.
John Smit, switched to tighthead prop after winning most of his 90 caps as hooker, skippers the Springboks whose first Test is against France on November 13 at the Municipal Stadium in Toulouse.—AFP
John Smit, Victor Matfield, Andries Bekker, Bakkies Botha, Heinrich Brüssow, Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Alistair Hargreaves, Ashley Johnson, Ryan Kankowski, Bandise Maku, Tendai Mtawarira, Dewald Potgieter, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Davon Raubenheimer, Danie Rossouw, Pierre Spies, Gurthro Steenkamp, Heinke van der Merwe, Heini Adams, Meyer Bosman, Juan de Jongh, Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Adrian Jacobs, Zane Kirchner, Odwa Ndungane, Jongikhaya Nokwe, Wynand Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Earl Rose, Morne Steyn, Riaan Viljoen.
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