CAPE TOWN – Experienced flank Francois Louw and uncapped Sharks wing S’busiso Nkosi and scrum-half Louis Schreuder were included in the Springbok squad for the two remaining home matches of the 2017 Rugby Championship.
Louw has played in 52 Tests for the Springboks and earns a recall to the squad after missing out on the June Tests due to a shoulder injury. He underwent a shoulder operation in May which ruled him out of the series against France.
Former Junior Springbok Nkosi is a strong performer on the wing for the Sharks in the Currie Cup to date after an impressive debut season in Super Rugby. The 21-year-old is currently the joint top try scorer in the Currie Cup competition.
The 27-year old Schreuder is included as one of three scrum-halves in the group of 30 players. Schreuder, a Springbok tourist in 2013, has continued with his good performances for the Sharks since joining the Durban-based province from the Southern Kings before the Currie Cup.
Schreuder, a star in Super Rugby for the Southern Kings this year, replaces Francois Hougaard in the only change to the squad that returned from Australasia on Sunday.
Several Springbok regulars were not considered for selection because of injury. Coenie Oosthuizen suffered a broken arm in Perth against Australia two weeks ago, while flanker Jaco Kriel sustained a shoulder injury in the same match. He underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair the damage to his shoulder and will be out of action for the rest of the year.
Warren Whiteley is still recovering from his groin operation, and Frans Malherbe (prop, neck) is also still out, while Oupa Mohoje is scheduled to return to the playing field this weekend after spending the last month sidelined with a rib injury.
Coetzee has retained with the nucleus of the squad who have won five and drawn one of their seven internationals so far this season, with the three additions rewarded for their good form.
“Louis and S’bu have both performed well this season, and their inclusion gives us an opportunity to work closely with them,” said Bok coach Allister Coetzee.
“They are both in-form players and are making good decisions on the field in their respective positions. Their inclusion and exposure to this level will continue our process of building depth in certain positions.
“Louis has been there before, but we’re excited to expose S’bu to the Springbok environment – he is in excellent form and we are excited to work with him.”
Louw, a seasoned international flank, will bring along more experience and leadership to the team, who have been hit by long-term injuries amongst the loose forwards.
“Francois is an experienced loose forward who has always performed well for us,” said Coetzee.
“He is still regarded as one of the best opensiders playing towards the ball and forcing turnovers. He had a proper offseason for the first time in a long while and will be a good addition to our loose forward combinations in the absence of several players.
“Francois will also add to our leadership group and importantly for us, he still has a burning desire to play for the Springboks.
“Apart from the New Zealand match, this squad showed progress so far this season and the next two home matches give us more opportunities to evolve as a team, and in particular to stay composed under pressure.”
The Springbok squad will get together on Sunday in Bloemfontein, where they will be based on the build-up to the Test against the Wallabies at the Fre State Stadium on 30 September. They tackle the All Blacks a week later, on 7 October, at Newlands in Cape Town in their final match of the campaign.
Forwards: Uzair Cassiem, Lood de Jager, Ruan Dreyer, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth (c), Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Wilco Louw, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Chiliboy Ralepelle
Backs: Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronje, Damian de Allende, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Rudy Paige, Handré Pollard, Raymond Rhule, Louis Schreuder, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan, S’busiso Nkosi