Springboks mix old, new for England series
PRETORIA (AFP) - New South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer retained seven of the team beaten by Australia in the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals for a three-Test home series against England during June.
Full-back Patrick Lambie, wings JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana, centre Jean de Villiers, fly-half Morne Steyn, tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis and eighthman Pierre Spies were included in a 32-strong squad named here Saturday.
Hooker John Smit and lock Victor Matfield have retired, flank Schalk Burger is injured, scrum-half Fourie du Preez and lock Danie Rossouw play in Japan, prop Gurthro Steenkamp in France, centre Jaque Fourie was unavailable and flank Heinrich Brussow was dropped.
The absence of Central Cheetah 'fetcher' Brussow in a squad including nine uncapped players is the biggest shock while Stormers centre Juan de Jongh and fly-half Peter Grant would have had realistic expectations of making the cut.
Most of the South African media believed Du Preez would be brought back from Japanese champions Suntory Sungoliath for the series with some commentators also expecting him to be named skipper.
Meyer, who succeeded controversial Peter de Villiers after the World Cup exit in Wellington, said he would speak to the squad and then senior players separately Sunday before naming his captain.
Whoever is chosen, and Western Stormers inside or outside centre Jean de Villiers must be favourite, will lead the Springboks for the England series, stressed the former Northern Bulls coach.
A long-term skipper would be chosen later with Burger among those likely to come into contention for a position held by Coastal Shark Smit from 2004 until his post-World Cup retirement.
Meyer promised in the build-up to the squad announcement that he would give a chance to uncapped players who impressed during the Super 15 southern hemisphere provincial championship and kept his word with nine new faces.
They are wing-cum-centre JJ Engelbrecht, fly-half Elton Jantjies, scrum-half Jano Vermaak, prop Coenie Oosthuizen, locks Franco van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger and flanks Marcell Coetzee and Jacques Potgieter.
Young Stormers loose forward Siya Kolisi, named man of the match after his team beat Bulls at Loftus just before the squad announcement, must consider himself unlucky not to make it although he will train with the squad.
South Africa lead England 19-12 with one draw in a 106-year Test rivalry and the teams clash at Kings Park in Durban on June 9, Ellis Park in Johannesburg on June 16 and Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth a week later.
South Africa squad
Zane Kirchner (Northern Bulls), JP Pietersen (Coastal Sharks), JJ Engelbrecht (Bulls), Jean de Villiers (Western Stormers), Wynand Olivier (Bulls), Francois Steyn (Racing Metro/FRA), Bryan Habana (Stormers), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), Bjorn Basson (Bulls), Morne Steyn (Bulls), Patrick Lambie (Sharks), Elton Jantjies (Golden Lions), Francois Hougaard (Bulls), Jano Vermaak (Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster/IRL)
Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Coenie Oosthuizen (Central Cheetahs), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Werner Kruger (Bulls), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Flip van der Merwe (Bulls), Franco van der Merwe (Lions), Juandre Kruger (Bulls), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Willem Alberts (Sharks), Pierre Spies (Bulls), Ryan Kankowski (Sharks), Keegan Daniel (Sharks), Jacques Potgieter (Bulls)