JOHANNESBURG — As it turns out, Western Province were always on the back foot going into Saturday’s Currie Cup final against the Sharks at Newlands. Earlier in the week, the players selected for the Springbok squad for the 4 Test end-of-year tour had been told of their national call-up. Given the logistics of flying to London, it meant that the players involved in the Currie Cup final would have to leave Newlands at halftime. Which explains why the Western Province side that played in the second half had been somewhat gutted. Bongi Mbonambi’s non-appearance in the second half had much more to do with his need to get to the airport than his poor first half performance. It also explains why Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe, also known as the Angry Warthog, was angrier than usual. He had again been overlooked for national duty, with Rassie Erasmus opting for Schalk Brits as his third hooker. Possibly Erasmus has gone with Brits because of his knowledge of the playing conditions in England, but van der Merwe has been a stand-out player in the Currie Cup season and deserved a call-up. He missed out, and channelled his frustration into a match-winning performance, securing the man-of-the match. The final wasn’t won and lost on the field at Newlands. It was lost as soon as the players knew who was flying to London and who was staying at home. – David O’Sullivan
The uncapped trio of Sergeal Petersen (wing), Ruhan Nel (centre) and JD Schickerling (lock) were on Saturday named in the Springbok squad of 36 for the 2018 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to the United Kingdom and France.
Apart from the inclusion of the three uncapped players from DHL Western Province, there were recalls for Gio Aplon (outside back) and Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf), who captained the Cell C Sharks in Saturday’s Currie Cup final.
Schreuder and the uncapped DHL Western Province trio were among 10 players who rushed from the Currie Cup final to catch a flight to the UK to join the Springboks on tour.
Also on the flight after the final were Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Damian Willemse (all DHL Western Province) and the Cell C Sharks’ Sbu Nkosi and Thomas du Toit. The final of the Currie Cup, sponsored by Nashua and DirectAxis Financial Services, was won by the Cell C Sharks by 17-12.
Trevor Nyakane (prop) and Lood de Jager (lock) are back in the Springbok fold after missing the entire international season to date due to injury, while Duane Vermeulen (loose forward) also returns after missing the Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign.
All three experienced forwards, with a combined 115 caps between them, were part of a preliminary squad of 20 players who attended a week-long training camp in Stellenbosch, where they worked hard to prepare for the annual end of year tour.
Petersen played in a tour match for the Springboks against the Barbarians at Wembley in London in 2016, but is uncapped at Test level. Nel was part of the squad during the latter stages of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
The 23-year-old Schickerling, a former SA Under-20 representative, will get his first taste of senior international rugby, although he and Petersen played for the SA ‘A’ side against the touring England Saxons in June 2016.
Aplon is plying his trade in Japan nowadays and has 17 Test caps to his name, the last of which came in 2012. He is an exciting attacker with a good left boot and can play either fullback or wing.
Schreuder has one Test cap and cracked the nod for inclusion in the tour squad following some good performances for the Cell C Sharks in the domestic Currie Cup.
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, has named 20 forwards and 16 backs for the month-long tour to England, France, Scotland and Wales.
“This tour to the northern hemisphere will be another tough test of our team’s character and we are looking forward to the exciting challenges against England, France, Scotland and Wales,” said Erasmus.
“It is always good to welcome new players to the Springbok environment and I’m excited to work with Sergeal and JD – I am sure they will bring a lot of energy into the group.
“Gio has a lot of experience of playing in the challenging European conditions from his club rugby stint in France, while Louis has been impressive in the Currie Cup and also brings a lot of experience.
“And we all know the value experienced players such as Lood, Trevor, and Duane will bring to the squad.”
Lionel Mapoe, who was part of the training squad in Stellenbosch, was ruled out of the tour due to injury and joins Tendai Mtawarira, Ross Cronje, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, all of whom were part of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship squad, on the sidelines.
The Springboks face England at Twickenham on 3 November, followed by a meeting with the French in Paris one week later on 10 November. Their third Test on Tour is against Scotland at BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh on 17 November, and they wrap up their month-long tour with a visit to the Principality Stadium, where they are due to face Wales on 24 November.
The Springbok squad for the 2018 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour (in order of name, surname, position, province, Test caps, Test points):
Schalk Brits (Hooker, Unattached, 11, 5 – 1t)
Lood de Jager (Lock, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 36, 20 – 4t)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Loose forward / Lock, DHL Western Province, 42, 20 – 4t)
Thomas du Toit (Prop, Cell C Sharks, 5, 0)
Eben Etzebeth (Lock, DHL Western Province, 73, 15 – 3t)
Steven Kitshoff (Prop, DHL Western Province, 33, 5 – 1t)
Vincent Koch (Prop, Saracens, England, 10, 0)
Siya Kolisi (captain – Loose forward, DHL Western Province, 37, 25 – 5t)
Francois Louw (Loose forward, Bath, England, 62, 45, – 9t)
Wilco Louw (Prop, DHL Western Province, 11, 0)
Frans Malherbe (Prop, DHL Western Province, 25, 0)
Malcolm Marx (Hooker, Xerox Golden Lions, 20, 20 – 4t)
Bongi Mbonambi (Hooker, DHL Western Province, 22, 10 – 2t)
Franco Mostert (Lock, Xerox Golden Lions, 26, 5 – 1t)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Loose forward, DHL Western Province, 6, 0)
Trevor Nyakane (Prop, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 37, 5 – 1t)
JD Schickerling (Lock, DHL Western Province, uncapped)
RG Snyman (Lock, Honda Heat, Japan, 8, 0)
Duane Vermeulen (Loose forward, Kubota Spears, Japan, 42, 15 – 3t)
Warren Whiteley (Loose forward, Xerox Golden Lions, 21, 15 – 3t)
Gio Aplon (Wing / Fullback, Toyota Verblitz, Japan, 17, 25 – 5t)
Damian de Allende (Centre, DHL Western Province, 33, 20 – 4t)
Aphiwe Dyantyi (Wing, Xerox Golden Lions, 9, 30 – 6t)
André Esterhuizen (Centre, Munakata Sanix Blues, Japan, 5, 0)
Elton Jantjies (Flyhalf, Xerox Golden Lions, 29, 223 – 2t, 42c, 43p)
Cheslin Kolbe (Wing / Fullback, Toulouse, France, 4, 10 – 2t)
Jesse Kriel (Centre, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 36, 50 – 10t)
Willie le Roux (Fullback, Wasps, England, 50, 60 – 12t)
Ruhan Nel (Centre, DHL Western province, upcapped)
Sbu Nkosi (Wing, Cell C Sharks, 3, 10 – 2t)
Embrose Papier (Scrumhalf, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 4, 0)
Sergeal Petersen (Wing, DHL Western Province, uncapped)
Handré Pollard (Flyhalf, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 35, 293 – 3t, 55c, 53p, 3d)
Louis Schreuder (Scrumhalf, Cell C Sharks, 1, 0)
Ivan van Zyl (Scrumhalf, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 3, 0)
Damian Willemse (Flyhalf / Fullback, DHL Western Province, 3, 0)