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Fresh blood as Rassie Erasmus names 35-man Springboks squad

By Ian Cameron
South Africa's tighthead prop Frans Malherbe (L), South Africa's lock Eben Etzebeth (2L), South Africa's lock Franco Mostert (C) and South Africa's openside flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit (R) stand for the national anthems ahead of the France 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between England and South Africa at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, on October 21, 2023. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus has named a 35-player squad for the team’s first official training camp of the season, starting Monday in Pretoria.


The camp will focus on preparing for the opening Test against Wales on 22 June in London. The squad features 11 uncapped players alongside veterans from the 2019 and 2023 Rugby World Cup-winning squads.

The uncapped players include Jordan Hendrikse, Quan Horn, Edwill van der Merwe, Morne van den Berg (all Emirates Lions), Phepsi Buthelezi, Siya Masuku, Ethan Hooker (Hollywoodbets Sharks), Ben-Jason Dixon, Sacha Feinberg-Mgomezulu, Neethling Fouche, and Andre-Hugo Venter (DHL Stormers).

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Damian de Allende talks about the plaudits heaped on him by his teammates

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Damian de Allende talks about the plaudits heaped on him by his teammates

European based players are not considered for the first Test, and Vodacom Bulls players – who advanced to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-finals – are also excluded.

The squad comprises 19 forwards and 16 backs. Notably, Rugby World Cup-winning flyhalf Handre Pollard and No. 8 Jasper Wiese, who is serving a six-week ban, will train with the squad but will be available for selection only after the Wales Test.

Erasmus’s squad includes a mix of local talent from the Hollywoodbets Sharks, Emirates Lions, and DHL Stormers, along with players from Japan, signaling a strong blend of youth and experience for the upcoming season.

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“We selected a group of players featuring a good mix of youth and experience, and in terms of the young players especially, we believe they have the potential to make the step-up to top international rugby,” said Erasmus.


“We’ve been following all their performances closely, we had the luxury of presenting our plans to them and getting to know them as individuals off the field at the alignment camps, and we are pleased with the enthusiasm they showed and willingness to learn.

“With the players based in Europe, the UK and Ireland not available for Wales, we anticipate that there will be a few players making their Test debuts in that match, but even for those who do not make the cut, having them in camp and getting the chance to work closely with them on the field will set them and the team in good stead as we prepare for this season and start laying the foundation for the 2027 World Cup in Australia.”

“We gained immense value by granting a few players a chance to prove what they can do at international level in the last few years leading up to the 2023 World Cup. Some of the players who made their Test debuts in that time were members of the squad that lifted the trophy in Paris, and we feel it is important that we continue blooding new players as we build toward the future.

“As things stand, we have a bunch of young players that already have Test experience and who know exactly how we operate as a team and what is expected of them at this level, and we have no doubt that we will reap the rewards in the years to come as we continue to increase our squad depth.


“As always there are a few unlucky players who missed out on selection this time, but the door will always be open for them to be called up if the need arises.”

Steven Kitshoff, Lood de Jager, and Jaden Hendrikse are unavailable for the squad due to injury. The Springboks’ season begins with a Test against Wales, followed by two Tests against Ireland in Pretoria and Durban on July 6 and 13, and a first-ever Test against Portugal in Bloemfontein on July 20.

The Rugby Championship includes matches against Australia in Brisbane and Perth on August 10 and 17, and New Zealand in Johannesburg and Cape Town on August 31 and September 7.

They will also play Argentina in Santiago on September 21 and Nelspruit on September 28. The year-end tour features Tests against Scotland in Edinburgh, England in London, and Wales in Cardiff in November.

Springbok training squad

Forwards: Phepsi Buthelezi (Sharks), Joseph Dweba, Ben-Jason Dixon (both Stormers), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Eben Etzebeth (Sharks), Neethling Fouche (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Sharks), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Sharks), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), Franco Mostert (Heat), Ox Nche (Sharks), Evan Roos (Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Blu Revs), Andre-Hugo Venter (Stormers), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers).

Backs: Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), Faf de Klerk (Eagles), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Aphelele Fassi (Sharks), Jordan Hendrikse (Lions), Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Stormers), Ethan Hooker (Sharks), Quan Horn (Lions), Cheslin Kolbe (Sungoliath) Jesse Kriel (Eagles), Manie Libbok (Stormers), Makazole Mapimpi, Siya Masuku (both Sharks), Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers), Morné van den Berg (Lions), Edwill van der Merwe (Lions), Grant Williams (Sharks).



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finn 11 days ago

So are they going to have a squad of like 45 this summer, or are they going to drop a load of the young players from this squad once those playing for the bulls become available?

If SA do well this year it will be because of their experienced players, not their young talent. Given how little blooding of youngsters there was in the last cycle, Erasmus will likely keep relying on the same small group of 30-somethings until their bodies start giving out.

If SA go ahead with the insanely busy 2026 schedule I've seen mooted then they’ll probably use that year as the opportunity to build genuine depth.

Steve 11 days ago

That's a strong looking squad. It'll be interesting to see all the new players introduced to test rugby by the various teams in July.

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