This year saw another pack of exciting young players force their way into the Springbok fold and into contention for a place at the World Cup.
A lengthy injury list meant that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer had to turn to inexpeienced players more often than he would have liked, but the flip side is that it gave some players the chance to prove themselves at the highest level.
Admittedly there is still a lot of rugby to be played before the World Cup, but it will probably take something exceptional for any uncapped players to force their way into Meyer’s thinking next year.
The Springboks put a positive spin on their narrow defeat to the All Blacks in a bruising encounter on Saturday, saying they learnt valuable lessons a year out from the World Cup.
The 14-10 defeat in Wellington all but ended the Springboks bid to prevent the All Blacks claiming the Rugby Championship trophy for a third successive year.
It also came at a price, with scrum-half Ruan Pienaar out for up to eight weeks with knee ligament damage and a question mark over flanker Francois Louw, who suffered an arm injury.
But in the plus column, coach Heyneke Meyer saw a valuable return from his gamble to play 20-year-old Handre Pollard and 21-year-old Jan Serfontein against the top side in the world.
Considering the amount of Toyota Cheetahs that are leaving for greener pastures, Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Cell C Sharks may be the last time that their fans may see them in their orange and white strip before joining new teams.
And since it is their last home Super Rugby game of the season, coach Naka Drotske has included all his stars for the clash to try and score a win against in the local derby.
No less than eight Springboks are back in action for the team after spending the last month with the Springboks and Trevor Nyakane, captain Adriaan Strauss, prop Coenie Oosthuizen, lock Lood de Jager, utility forward Teboho Mohoke, flyhalf Johan Goosen, wing Cornal Hendricks and fullback Willie le Roux all return to the side for the clash.
Springboks Bryan Habana and Schalk Brits have been included in the South African sevens rugby squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Regular Blitzbokke coach Neill Powell will take charge of the squad, which features several household names in South African rugby.
Apart from Habana and Brits, experienced sevens campaigner Cornal Hendricks was also included. He made his Springbok debut in the 15-man code against the World XV last week.
South Africa’s Sevens Player of 2013, Cornal Hendricks, will make his debut for South Africa in the 15-man code next to ten players who started in the Springboks’ final Test of 2013 when they face a star-studded World XV, sponsored by Samsung, at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday (kick-off at 17:00 SA Time).
The speedy Hendricks is the only newcomer in the team as Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer opted for continuity in his team’s first match of the year.
The old firm of Bakkies Botha and interim captain Victor Matfield are re-united in the second row. JP Pietersen moves to outside centre. Schalk Burger makes a return to the side for the first time in two and a half years while Frans Steyn, Schalk Brits, Lwazi Mvovo and Johan Goosen are also back after playing no Test rugby last year.
Seven uncapped players, Damian de Allende, Lood de Jager, Cornal Hendricks, Teboho Mohoje, S’bura Sithole, Marcel van der Merwe and Callie Visagie, have been called up to Springbok duty as part of a 36-man squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series next month.
The squad also includes experienced World Cup winners Schalk Burger and Victor Matfield, while there is a return to the Springboks for Schalk Brits, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard, Lwazi Mvovo and Frans Steyn, all of whom last played Test rugby in 2012.
The national selectors have also kept a great deal of continuity. In total, 12 players who started the final Test of 2013, where the Springboks beat France in Paris for the first time in 16 years, have been retained in the squad.
However, notable omissions include Springbok captain and SARU’s Player of the Year in 2013, Jean de Villiers, who is out with a knee injury, and the Young Player of the Year for the last two seasons and IRB Player of the Year nominee last year, Eben Etzebeth, who has been given more time to fully recover from the foot injury which has kept him sidelined this entire season.
The Springboks will also be without one of their vice-captains, Adriaan Strauss, who has been suspended for three matches as well as the experienced Jaque Fourie, who started all three Tests last November but has been ruled out with an ankle injury and Pat Lambie, a regular member of the squad for the last two years.
World champion Springboks Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger as well as two former Blitzbok stars, Cornal Hendricks and S’bura Sithole, are included in a 36-man squad to attend a national training camp in Durban from 25 to 28 May, the South African Rugby Union announced on Monday.
Cell C Sharks back Sithole and Hendricks, the SA Sevens Player of the Year in 2013, are two of eight uncapped players in the squad. The others are the Toyota Cheetahs duo of Lood de Jager (lock) and Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (loose forward); Marcel van der Merwe (prop) and Jacques du Plessis (flank/lock) of the Vodacom Bulls; Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf) of the Lions and the DHL Stormers’ Damian De Allende (centre/wing).
They will join Matfield, Burger and Toyota Cheetahs flanker Heinrich Brüssow – who are back in the national set up for the first time since the last Rugby World Cup in 2011 – in a training squad that is missing a number of players due to injury.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said he was happy with the form of a number of the country’s top players and the uncapped players who have grabbed their chance this season, as well as the re-appearance from retirement and long-term injury of Matfield and Burger.
This is the 8th and last in the series of Cheetahs Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2014. We did 2 articles per week per South African Super Rugby participating franchise.
We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for BACK THREE in the Toyota Cheetahs 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
Prolific try scorer and Blitzbok stalwart, Cornal Hendricks, finally gets to don the Cheetahs jersey. The Toyota Cheetahs iniatially contracted Hendricks for this year’s Super Rugby, but a dispute arose with SARU, as Sevens coach Paul Treu wanted Hendricks for the Sevens circuit. It now seems that Hendricks’ wish of playing for the Cheetahs will come true.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has confirmed that Hendricks has signed a contract for the 2014 Super Rugby and Currie Cup season.
Sevens specialist and Boland winger Cornal Hendricks swops places with Phillip Snyman. Snyman will join the Bok 7’s squad and Cornal Hendricks will add further depth to the Cheetahs squad. It is a win-win situation, as the Cheetahs have great depth at centre but need good quality wingers.