Springboks Rugby Championship squad: Frans Steyn the big casualty
Injury-plagued utility back Francois Steyn was the big-name omission from the 40-man Springbok training squad named on Saturday for next month’s Rugby Championship. Steyn, now 36, was a key figure in the Springboks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph in Japan as well as the 2007 victory in France. His chances of becoming a champion for a third time appear to […]
Injury-plagued utility back Francois Steyn was the big-name omission from the 40-man Springbok training squad named on Saturday for next month’s Rugby Championship.
Steyn, now 36, was a key figure in the Springboks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph in Japan as well as the 2007 victory in France.
His chances of becoming a champion for a third time appear to be waning.
Meanwhile, Munster lock Jean Kleyn will be included in the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship if an application for a change of national team status succeeds.
The 29-year-old was born in South Africa, but qualified for Ireland through residency, made five Test appearances and was part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad.
A SA Rugby statement on Saturday said Kleyn will become the 41st member of the Championship squad if an application based on his birth place succeeds.
Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has been able to include previously club-tied stars based in England and France for the first time for a training camp that begins in Pretoria on Monday.
Captain Siya Kolisi, lock Eben Etzebeth, prop Thomas du Toit and scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse were all chosen despite being sidelined by injuries.
Kolisi has been ruled out of the Rugby Championship as he recovers from a serious knee injury, but coach Jacques Nienaber believes he will be fit for the World Cup defence in September.
“Do we think he (Kolisi) will be ready for the World Cup? Yes, we do,” Nienaber told a recent press briefing in Cape Town.
Apart from Kleyn, the biggest surprise was a recall for long-ignored loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez, who was part of the Sale Sharks team beaten by Saracens in the English Premiership final.
Du Preez and France-based props Trevor Nyakane and Vincent Koch will not be available for the start of the camp due to personal and club commitments.
Injury-plagued utility back Francois Steyn – a key figure in the 2019 World Cup triumph in Japan – was not included and his chances of becoming a champion a third time are waning.
Equally adept when operating at fullback, centre or flyhalf and a brilliant long-range goal-kicker, Steyn was a pivotal figure in what became known as the World Cup ‘bomb squad’.
Instead of a traditional five forwards/three backs bench in Japan, then coach Rassie Erasmus chose six forwards, Steyn to cover the backline, and a specialist scrumhalf.
This meant the Springboks could change six of the eight forwards, usually early in the second half, giving fresh impetus to their performances.
South Africa begin a six-match countdown to the World Cup with Championship matches against Australia (July 8), New Zealand (July 15) and Argentina (July 29).
SPRINGBOK RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP TRAINING SQUAD
Props: Thomas du Toit (Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Stade Francais), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Ox Nche (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92).
Hookers: Joseph Dweba (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks).
Locks: Lood de Jager (Wild Knights), Eben Etzebeth (Sharks), Marvin Orie (Stormers), RG Snyman (Munster).
Loose Forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Siya Kolisi (Sharks), Evan Roos (Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Marco van Staden (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Ulster), Jasper Wiese (Leicester).
Utility Forwards: Jean-Luc du Preez (Sale Sharks), Deon Fourie (Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat).
Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Grant Williams (Sharks).
Flyhalves: Manie Libbok (Stormers), Handre Pollard (Leicester), Damian Willemse (Stormers).
Centres: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles).
Outside Backs: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Canan Moodie (Bulls).
SPRINGBOK 2023 FIXTURES
Saturday, 8 July – Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 15 July – Springboks vs New Zealand (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland)
Saturday, 29 July – Springboks vs Argentina (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Rugby World Cup warm-up fixtures:
Saturday, 5 August – Springboks v Argentina (Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires)
Saturday, 19 August – Springboks vs Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
Friday, 25 August – Springboks vs New Zealand (Twickenham, London)
Rugby World Cup fixtures:
Sunday, 10 September – Springboks v Scotland (Stade Marseille, Marseille)
Sunday, 17 September – Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday, 23 September – Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)
Sunday, 1 October – Springboks v Tonga (Stade Marseille, Marseille)
Weekend of 14/15 October – Quarter-finals
Weekend of 21/22 October – Semi-finals
Saturday, 28 October – Final