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Springboks explain recall of Jason Jenkins, last capped in 2018

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has explained the sudden inclusion of Jason Jenkins in their tour squad four years after the soon-to-be 27-year-old played his one and only previous Test match in June 2018. It was against Wales in Washington that the lock made his debut but he had since fallen off the scene… until now.

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It was 2021 when the ex-Bulls second row, who spent some time in Japan, pitched up in Ireland at Munster but his stint there didn’t go well due to injuries. However, he did enough in the small time that he did play to convince Leinster boss Leo Cullen that he had the physicality, the size, and the skill set to be a valuable addition to their setup and so it has proved.

Whereas he started just twice in ten appearances for Munster last season, accumulating around 248 minutes, he has already surpassed that activity in the opening weeks of the 2022/23 season with Leinster, playing 334 minutes in his five starts and scoring two tries, a run that culminated in an excellent derby performance last Saturday in the win over his old club Munster.

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That surge in form didn’t do unnoticed back home and Jenkins was named on Friday in the 35-strong Springboks squad that begins its European tour with the November 5 Test against Ireland in Dublin.

Nienaber said: “He has got one cap for South Africa and that was the first Test match that Rassie (Erasmus) was head coach for in 2018 against Wales in Washington. Then after that Jason went abroad and I just think he had a bad run.

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“Last year for Munster he played ten games, he only started 20 per cent of the games, he had a lot of injuries and stuff that he had to get through but I mean this year he played five games now for Leinster and he is playing good rugby, he is playing consistently, starting games, finishing games, scored two great tries. So yeah, he is really playing good rugby.”

Director of rugby Erasmus added that the ongoing unavailability of RG Snyman also factored into the thinking behind their recall of Jenkins. The 27-year-old Snyman, who won the last of his 23 Springboks caps off the bench in the 2019 World Cup final, has endured a horrible injury-hit time since joining Munster.

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“Maybe just to add to that, we have always been waiting for RG Snyman, we have always been waiting for him, we all know what a freak he is as an athlete and what he can do for us at the Boks,” said Erasmus.

“Last time he played for us was at the World Cup. He has been in camp with us sharing a week or two just to get up to speed but then he gets another setback. We have to sometimes stop thinking he can make it to the World Cup and if we leave it until after this end-of-year tour we will be taking a big risk not to make sure we have a third or fourth front lock.

“Jason is somebody who will probably give us some of those answers hopefully when we play these six games on tour.”

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