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35-strong Springboks squad includes Libbok, Mngomezulu and Jenkins

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

South African boss Jacques Nienaber has named a 35-strong Springboks squad for their upcoming European tour that includes a first call-up for ex-Junior Springbok backs Manie Libbok and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, while lock Jason Jenkins is back in the national set-up four years after making his Test debut. Another 19 players will travel in an A team squad that will be coached by Mzwandile Stick.

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An SA Rugby statement on the Springboks squad selections, where the big-name absentee was Duane Vermeulen, read: “Libbok and Mngomezulu are the only uncapped players in Nienaber’s 35-man squad, Jenkins played his only Test against Wales in Washington in 2018, while Sbu Nkosi and Marco van Staden are also back in the Bok mix after last playing in the green and gold in 2021.

“Stick’s SA A team in turn features capped Springboks Ntuthuko Mchunu (prop), Joseph Dweba (hooker), Ruan Nortje (lock), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (loose forward), Herschel Jantjies, Grant Williams (both scrum-halves), Johan Goosen (fly-half), Aphelele Fassi and Cornal Hendricks (both utility backs).

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“A flush of exciting young players, who have made their presence felt at franchise level, have also been included in the touring squad, including the likes of former Junior Bok captain Phepsi Buthelezi (loose forward), Sanele Nohamba (scrum-half), Henco van Wyk (centre), Gianni Lombard and Suleiman Hartzenberg (both utility backs).”

Explaining the combined 54-man selection, South African director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said: “This is a very important tour for both teams in terms of measuring how we perform against some of the top countries and clubs in the world and to give a wider group of players an opportunity to play at this level less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup.

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“We have some exciting young talent making a strong statement for their franchises and clubs, and since we are limited to selecting only a specified number of players for the Springbok squad, we would not have been able to see some of them in action, so we are delighted to have this SA A tour.

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“This team is the closest one can get to represent the Springboks and given the quality of the Munster and Bristol teams and the electric atmospheres expected at those sold-out matches, this will be the perfect opportunity for those players to put up their hands for the World Cup squad.”

Nienaber added: “We are facing three of the top five teams in the world in Ireland, France and England, and we are building our squad for the World Cup next year at the same time, so it was important to maintain consistency in selection while also rewarding a few talented young players for their steady form this season.

“The fact that a few key players were ruled out due to injury also played a role this process, but we know what we have in those players, and it has granted us an opportunity to see what the next generation of players can do at this level. This will bode well for the Rugby World Cup and beyond.

“Manie and Sacha have shown what they are capable of at Vodacom United Rugby Championship and Junior Springbok level, while Jason has been in fine form for Leinster, and we are thrilled to see them being called up to what is a largely settled squad.”

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The full Springboks squad will assemble in Dublin on Monday, while the SA A players are set to depart for Cork next weekend to begin their preparations for the midweek games where they will be joined by some of the coaches and players from the Bok squad.

Springbok squad (northern tour)
Props (6): Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), Vincent Koch (Stade Francais), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92);

Hookers (2): Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks);

Locks (5): Lood de Jager (Wild Knights), Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks), Jason Jenkins (Leinster), Salmaan Moerat, Marvin Orie (both DHL Stormers);

Loose forwards (6): Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks), Evan Roos (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers);

Utility forwards (2): Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat);

Scrum-halves (3): Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier);

Fly-halves (2): Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse (both DHL Stormers);

Centres (3): Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles);

Outside backs (3): Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks), Sbu Nkosi (Vodacom Bulls);

Utility backs (3): Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (DHL Stormers).

SA A squad
Forwards (10): Simphiwe Matanzima (Vodacom Bulls), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Cell C Sharks), Sazi Sandi (DHL Stormers), Mornay Smith (Vodacom Bulls), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Vodacom Bulls), Joseph Dweba (DHL Stormers), Andre-Hugo Venter (DHL Stormers), Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Bulls), Phepsi Buthelezi (Cell C Sharks), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Cell C Sharks);

Backs (9): Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), Sanele Nohamba (Emirates Lions), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks), Johan Goosen (Vodacom Bulls), Gianni Lombard (Emirates Lions), Aphelele Fassi (Cell C Sharks), Cornal Hendricks (Vodacom Bulls), Suleiman Hartzenberg (DHL Stormers), Henco van Wyk (Emirates Lions).

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