Australian Super Rugby sides are allowed 35 players each, moved up from 30 in 2012, in their Extended Player Squads for Super Rugby 2013.
Two of the Australian Super Rugby franchises, the Brumbies and the Reds, have both finalised their 35-Man squads.
The Brumbies have added Stephan Van der Walt and Mark Swanepoel as the final members of the 2013 Super Rugby Extended Playing squad (EPS) squad.
The Brumbies 2013 playing roster is now full as Van Der Walt and Mark Swanepoel have occupied the final two EPS positions.
Van Der Walt arrives from Queensland where he has been playing with Queensland Country and the University of Queensland.
A former Sunshine Coast boy who migrated to Australia with his family from South Africa at the age of 8, Van Der Walt has the size and speed to make it as an outside centre or wing at Super Rugby level.
Backs Coach Stephen Larkham said Van Der Walt had many similar traits to Clyde Rathbone in the way he attacks.
“We’ve signed Stephan from Queensland as a very passionate, aggressive outside back,” Larkham said.
“Stephan is a bit like Clyde – he’ll run over the top of you before he’ll run around you. He’s a big guy with quality skills and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with the benefit of a fulltime system.
“He’s got good size and speed and we think he’s probably slipped under the radar a bit so it will be exciting to see how he goes.
Swanepoel joins the Brumbies from New Zealand where he has been representing Canterbury in the ITM Cup.
A former Western Force player who claimed four caps between 2009 and 2011, Swanepoel was on the cusp of featuring for the Crusaders in 2012 before returning to Australian shores in search of more opportunity.
Another player with South African heritage, Swanepoel is a big, physical halfback who intends on pushing Ian Prior and Nic White all the way in the hunt for the starting No 9 jersey.
“He gives us coverage now, particularly with Nic White missing the majority of pre-season through his shoulder injury,” Larkham said.
“He’s only flown in this morning from New Zealand but you’d have to say that early inspections suggest he’s a very promising player.
“At 22 he’s been in Super Rugby before, he’s got four caps with the Force and also spent time with the Crusaders so that experience will certainly work in his favour.”
All 35 spots on the Brumbies roster have now been filled.
Queensland’s EPS for next season boasts new additions in backrower Jarrad Butler, lock Blake Enever and outside back Joel Faulkner along with returning members in front-rower Kevin Davis and playmaker UJ Seuteni.
All three new inclusions were former QAS Reds Academy members in 2011 before joining the inaugural National Academy when the development pathway changed in 2012.
Butler and Enever have been rewarded for their 2012 efforts where they were plucked out of the National Academy by Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie to make their Super Rugby debuts for an injury-hit Reds side late last season.
Enever got a small taste of Super Rugby when used as a replacement against the Melbourne Rebels in round 16 while Butler made his debut a week later against the Highlanders before earning his second Super Rugby cap in the Reds regular season finale against the NSW Waratahs.
Faulkner has a strong background with the Reds where he was member of the Reds Academy in 2010 and 2011 and will now offer the squad increased backline depth with his ability to cover fullback, centre and wing.
Seuteni remains the youngest member of the EPS and he will continue to develop his game at flyhalf after a 2012 year where he joined the group following his final year of schooling at The Southport School.
Davis also enters his second year in the EPS and will be aiming to build on the experience gained during his first year by offering further depth at both hooker and prop.
McKenzie said the 2013 EPS offered a good mix of experience and youth and would be crucial to the team’s 2013 campaign.
“Last season proved that you need more than just 30 contracted players to survive in Super Rugby so it’s important you have a strong group of players coming through the EPS as they will be forced to step up at some point during the year,” McKenzie said.
“Nick Frisby and Albert Anae were two examples from last year’s EPS who successfully made the transition into Super Rugby and have been rewarded with fulltime contracts for 2013.
“We’re fortunate to have an EPS group next year that has a strong background with the Reds either through our former Academy system or in last year’s EPS and we’re confident they have the ability to follow the same pathway as both Nick and Albert.”