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Rassie Erasmus' Springboks squad: The winners and losers

By Rugby365
South Africa's Cobus Reinach shakes hands with Warrick Gelant at the final whistle in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group B game between South Africa and Canada at Kobe Misaki Stadium on October 8, 2019 in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. (Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

Springbok head coach Rassie Erasmus selected a group of 35 players ahead of the first Test of the season against Wales in London on July 22.

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With a host of injuries, Erasmus had to cast the net a bit wider.

Sharks centre Ethan Hooker (21), who made his debut for his franchise this season, immediately caught the eye with some strong performances in a URC season to forget for the Durbanites.

With teammate Lukhanyo Am out injured, Hooker stepped up massively in the Sharks’ midfield and has a golden opportunity to impress the Springbok coaching group in what is a blockbuster season coming up with Tests against Wales, Portugal and a two-match series against Ireland looming.

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The other surprise selections include Stormers utility forward Ben-Jason Dixon and Lions wing Edwill van der Merwe.

Dixon, who recently played his 50th match for the Stormers against the Lions at Cape Town Stadium, was spotted in a social media post training with the national squad in their last alignment camp.

The utility forward is known for his exceptional workrate, something Erasmus always looks for in a player.

Some have compared him to being in the mould of Pieter-Steph du Toit who is heading towards the twilight of his career ahead of the 2027 RWC in Australia and he could fit that mould either as a backup or as a future starter.

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Fixture
Internationals
South Africa
09:00
22 Jun 24
Wales
All Stats and Data

Van der Merwe has been knocking on the door for some time now and was probably unlucky to miss out on selection the past two seasons.

The wing boasts electrifying pace and great finishing ability as well as great aerial skills.

He will provide Erasmus with a backup option, with the Bulls duo Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse in a race against time having picked up injuries recently.

Sanele Nohamba caught the eye this season having moved from scrumhalf to flyhalf and he gave the Lions a new attacking edge.

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Most recently, against the Glasgow Warriors, he came off the bench and virtually turned the game on its head on his own.

He would have provided Erasmus great versatility by being able to play both halfback positions.

His omission could also be the result of concussion symptoms due to high shot he received from Angelo Davids in his last outing against the Stormers.

Another unlucky player from the Stormers’ is Ruben van Heerden.

Van Heerden who leads the URC tackle stats with 224 tackles made has been a workhorse for the Cape franchise and is unlucky to miss out along with teammate Warrick Gelant who showed great improvement in the second half of the season,

Gelant has been pipped by Aphelele Fassi, who showed great form throughout the season.

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