Boks back to full strength as Nienaber names 40-man training squad

Boks back to full strength as Nienaber names 40-man training squad

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has named a 40-man Rugby Championship training squad set to assemble for a three-day camp in Pretoria starting on Sunday.

The squad includes the remaining overseas-based Boks who had not yet joined up with the team, including Cheslin Kolbe, Andre Esterhuizen, Handre Pollard, Jasper Wiese, Jean-Luc du Preez, Vincent Koch and Trevor Nyakane.

Furthermore, Jean Kleyn - who played five Tests for Ireland after qualifying on residency grounds in September 2019 - will join the squad as a 41st member pending the outcome of an application filed by SA Rugby regarding his eligibility. The decision is expected to be received soon.

The players will begin their on-field training sessions on Monday, with the exception of Nyakane, Koch and Du Preez, all of whom will join the camp later at different stages due to personal and club commitments.

The 40-man Rugby Championship squad likely gives a solid indication of the players Nienaber is hoping to take to the Rugby World Cup as well, although he will need to shed as many as seven players before selecting his final 33-man squad for France later this year.

"It is great that we have been able to invite this group of players to the camp and we are excited to get back onto the field and to switch into international mode completely," said Nienaber.

"We hosted a string of alignment and preparation camps between February and last week, but this time we have the luxury of working with the domestic and overseas-based players and to spend time together as a wider squad daily.

"This will raise the quality of our training sessions as we will again be able to field full teams against one another, while also having a look at a big group of players as we prepare for a challenging Rugby Championship campaign and 2023 season.

"Our medical team will also have more time to work directly with the players nursing injuries and to monitor their progress and rehabilitation as the Test matches draw nearer."

Nienaber said having the group together for a full three-week period before entering the final week of their preparation for their Rugby Championship opener against Australia at Loftus Versfeld was invaluable, as it offered the squad the opportunity to tick the boxes both mentally and physically before the international season kicks off.

The Boks will begin their 2023 season on Saturday, 8 July, with their opening Rugby Championship match against the Wallabies in Pretoria, which will be followed by a Test against New Zealand at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland (15 July), before returning to South Africa for their closing match of the shortened tournament against Argentina in Johannesburg (29 July).

They will then play three Rugby World Cup warm-up matches: against Argentina in Buenos Aires (Saturday, 5 August), Wales in Cardiff (Saturday, 19 August) and New Zealand in London (Friday, 25 August) before departing for the Rugby World Cup in France.

Springbok Rugby Championship Training Squad

Props: Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane.

Hookers: Joseph Dweba, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi.

Locks: Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman.

Loose Forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Evan Roos, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese.

Utility Forwards: Jean-Luc du Preez, Deon Fourie, Franco Mostert.

Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams.

Flyhalves: Manie Libbok, Handre Pollard, Damian Willemse.

Centres: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Andre Esterhuizen, Jesse Kriel.

Outside Backs: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Canan Moodie.

Springboks 2023 fixtures

Castle Lager Rugby Championship

Saturday, 8 July - Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)

Saturday, 15 July - Springboks vs New Zealand (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland)

Saturday, 29 July - Springboks vs Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

RWC warm-up fixtures

Saturday, 5 August - Springboks v Argentina (Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires)

Saturday, 19 August - Springboks vs Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)

Friday, 25 August - Springboks vs New Zealand (Twickenham, London)

RWC fixtures

Sunday, 10 September - Springboks v Scotland (Stade Marseille, Marseille)

Sunday, 17 September - Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)

Saturday, 23 September - Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)

Sunday, 1 October - Springboks v Tonga (Stade Marseille, Marseille)

Weekend of 14/15 October - Quarter-finals

Weekend of 21/22 October - Semi-finals

Saturday, 28 October - Final