Former SA Schools and Junior Springbok captain Salmaan Moerat has earned his first Springbok call-up in a squad of 32 players named by Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber on Tuesday for the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to the United Kingdom in November.
The Springboks will play three Test matches on the tour – against Wales in Cardiff (6 November), Scotland in Edinburgh (13 November), and England in London (20 November).
Moerat is the only newcomer in Nienaber’s squad that featured in the Lions Series and Rugby Championship and he will join forces with Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert and Marvin Orie in a strong group of second rowers.
The only other uncapped player in the squad is scrumhalf Grant Williams, who travelled to Australia with the Boks for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
The main injury-enforced omissions from Nienaber’s squad, are Faf de Klerk (hip flexor), Cheslin Kolbe (knee), Frans Malherbe (neck), and RG Snyman (knee).
Other players not considered for selection include Pieter-Steph du Toit and Rynhardt Elstadt, who are recovering from shoulder and an ankle injury respectively.
The squad consist of 18 forwards and 14 backs.
“This tour is going to be exciting yet challenging,” said Nienaber.
“The core group of players who played a key role in the series against the British & Irish Lions, as well as the Rugby Championship will remain together as we build consistency and continuity in our squad with an eye on the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“We had to travel to Australia with an expanded squad due the strict COVID-19 protocols in the country, but with the easing of travel restrictions to Europe and the UK, we were able to revert to a more manageable touring squad.
“We are two years out from the Rugby World Cup in France, and we have close to 20 Test matches before we start our defence of the title, so every match will count in terms of building confidence and consistency as a group.
“A number of players have put up their hands in the Carling Currie Cup and the first four rounds of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, which is great for our local game, and while they remain on our radar, we’ve decided to stick with the core of our 2021 squad for this tour.”
Commenting on the loss of a few players due to injury, Nienaber said: “It’s always unfortunate to lose players due to injury, but we have good depth in our squad, and these are established players who have proven themselves at the highest level.”
Veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn (with 68 tests to his name) will also not be part of the team since he has announced his retirement from international rugby. Steyn (37) – who kicked the penalty that won the Springboks the series against the British & Irish Lions in August – has retired to focus on club rugby and to spend more time with his family.
Nienaber was delighted to call up Moerat, who has been serving as the DHL Stormers’ co-captain on their Vodacom United Rugby Championship tour in recent weeks and said the lock’s experience and leadership qualities would be valuable as he makes the step up to the Springbok team.
“Salmaan has established himself as a talented lock and captain since his younger days in our junior structures and he has continued to show his class at senior level for the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province,” said Nienaber.
“(Salmaan’s) call-up is well earned, and we are looking forward to witnessing what he adds to the squad. He is also familiar with most of the players in the squad having either played with them or against them, so we have no doubt he will slot in with ease.”
Nienaber expects tough competition on the tour and says: “We have built a good base this season after our series victory against the British & Irish Lions and victories against the All Blacks, Argentina and Georgia, although we were disappointed that the results did not go our way in the other three Tests in Australia (in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship).
“Obviously this will be a completely different challenge to that we faced in South Africa and Australia earlier this year with the vastly different conditions and in terms of the teams we will face, but fortunately we got a taste of what to expect from the northern hemisphere sides in the Lions Series.
“England is in fourth place on the world rankings, and Scotland and Wales are in seventh and ninth place respectively, and they are all top-class teams that will want to make a strong statement in front of their home crowds, so we need to get into the swing of things quickly when we assemble,” the Springbok coach added.
The Springboks will depart for a one-week training camp in France on Friday before making the journey to Cardiff for their opening Test.
Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour:
Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks) – 13 caps, 0 pts
Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 56 caps, 5pts (1t)
Vincent Koch (Saracens) – 28 caps, 0 pts
Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 6 caps, 0pts
Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 51 caps, 5pts (1t)
Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux Bègles) – 1 cap, 0 pts
Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 43 caps, 45 pts (9t)
Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 45 caps, 45 pts (9t)
Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 53 caps, 25 pts (5t)
Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 94 caps, 15 pts (3t)
Salmaan Moerat (DHL Stormers) – Uncapped
Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers) – 7 caps, 0 pts
Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 60 caps, 30 pts (6t)
Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 16 caps, 5 pts (1t)
Marco van Staden (Leicester Tigers) – 9 caps, 0 pts
Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) – 58 caps, 15 pts (3t)
Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 8 caps, 0 pts
Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 48 caps, 5pts (1t)
Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 18 caps, 25 pts (5t)
Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 18 caps, 40pts (8t)
Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks) – Uncapped
Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes) – 41 caps, 309 pts (2t, 64c, 56p, 1d)
Handré Pollard (Montpellier) – 57 caps, 558 pts (6t, 83c, 120p, 4d)
Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 23 caps, 25 pts (5t)
Damian de Allende (Munster) – 55 caps, 35 pts (7t)
Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 48 caps, 60 pts (12t)
Aphelele Fassi (Cell C Sharks) – 2 caps, 10pts (2t)
Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 70 caps, 60 pts (12t)
Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 22 caps, 85 pts (17t)
Sbu Nkosi (Cell C Sharks) – 25 caps, 45 pts (9t)
Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 14 caps, 5pts (1t)
Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 71 caps, 141pts (11t, 7c, 21p, 3d)
Castle Lager Outgoing Tour fixtures (SA kick-off times):
Saturday, 6 November
19h30 – Wales v South Africa (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
Saturday, 13 November
14h00 – Scotland v South Africa (BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh)
Saturday, 20 November
17h15 – England v South Africa (Twickenham, London)