The Springboks concluded a week of intense training at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Friday as their preparations for the year-end tour to Ireland, England, Italy and Wales stepped up a gear. A total of 31 players took part in the training camp after prop Marcel Van Der Merwe withdrew due to injury. Among the squad were four uncapped players in Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Boela Abrahams (scrumhalf) and Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), who were invited to get a taste of what Springbok rugby is all about after impressive performances for their provinces in the Absa Currie Cup.
“We had a good week and the players really worked very hard on the field and in the gym. The emphasis was on conditioning and we also paid a lot of attention to detail on and off the field. It was great to have time to work on these things before we embark on what will be a very tough tour. The players’ attitude was great and I’m looking forward to the tour. We encountered all kinds of weather this year and it will be good to have an extended run in the type of conditions we could typically expect at the Rugby World Cup next year,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. The Bok coach added that the touring squad of 36 players will be finalised over the weekend, “It will be difficult to leave some guys behind, as it always is. There are a number of players who are not available because of injury but that provides an opportunity for someone else and I’m confident we’ll be able to select a strong squad. This year we had quite a high number of debutants, but it was great to see these players come through and make the most of their opportunities. It will be the same on this tour and I’m excited to see what the new guys can bring to the table.” Players from Western Province and the Golden Lions, who will contest the Currie Cup Premier Division final in Cape Town tomorrow, will also come into the selection frame although they were not considered for the training camp.
Apart from Van Der Merwe, the following Springboks and players who have been involved with the national team will not be considered for selection due to injury: Fourie Du Preez, Schalk Brits, Callie Visagie, Frans Malherbe, Flip Van Der Merwe, Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi, Arno Botha, Pierre Spies and Willem Alberts, who could come into consideration at a later stage during the tour. Several coaches and officials from other teams were invited to be part of the training camp in Stellenbosch, which included team meetings, field training and video sessions. They included Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell and his management team, the Junior Springboks’ Dawie Theron and Warren Adams, Renfred Dazel of the Springbok Women Sevens team, Peter Engledow (GWK Griquas), Willem Oliphant (president of Despatch), Brent Janse Van Rensburg (Grey High School in Port Elizabeth), and Jaco Koch and Jan-Hendrik Hattingh (Affies in Pretoria).
Furthermore, coaches and team management from Boland and Stellenbosch University also attended some sessions and spent time with the Springbok coaching team. “It’s wonderful to have these guys around. All of them are eager to learn and improve, but in rugby the sharing of thoughts and ideas is very important so we also picked up interesting insights from them as well,” said Meyer.
Photo: Four national rugby captains at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport are (from left) Handré Pollard (Junior Springboks), Kyle Brown (Springbok Sevens), Zenay Jordaan (Springbok Women Sevens) and Jean De Villiers (Springboks).
Photo Credit: SARU.