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Springbok squad announced for Rugby Championship

The Springbok selectors on Saturday included five uncapped players in a 30-man Springbok squad for the inaugural Castle Rugby Championship.

Andries Bekker makes a welcome return to the Springboks

The Stormers loose forward, Siya Kolisi, and Lions prop, Pat Cilliers, join JJ Engelbrecht (centre/wing), Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) and Jano Vermaak (scrumhalf), who were all part of the Springbok squad for the June series against England, but did not make an appearance.

There was also a recall for Stormers lock Andries Bekker after two years on the Test sidelines because of injuries.

The Springbok squad will assemble in Cape Town on Sunday to begin preparations for their opening Test of the new Southern Hemisphere competition, on August 18 against Argentina at Newlands.

Bekker, the tallest player ever to represent South Africa in a Test at 2.08m, is back in the squad for the first time since July 2010. He missed the 2010 end-of-year tour, as well as the entire 2011 season and Castle Incoming Tour against England in June because of injury. He has 24 Test caps and brings valuable experience to the pack of forwards, four of whom made their Test debuts against England.

“It is important for us to build continuity in our squad, which is why we did not make too many changes,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Andries was always in the selection frame, but got injured shortly before England arrived and was not available. It’s good to have him back.”

Meyer is excited about the forthcoming series against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

“It is a big challenge, playing six Tests against the best teams in the world in eight weeks and we now have to ensure we improve on how we played against England,” said Meyer.

“It’s still early days for this team, but we are excited about what lies ahead in a brand new competition that promises to be very testing.”

Injured Springboks not considered for selection were: Bjorn Basson, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brüssow, Bandise Maku and Coenie Oosthuizen.

Two further players who were part of the squad in the series against England, Wynand Olivier and Ryan Kankowski, have signed contracts to play their rugby in Japan and were also not considered.

The Springbok squad is:
Willem Alberts, The Sharks, 11 caps
Andries Bekker, DHL Western Province, 24 caps
Pat Cilliers, MTN Golden Lions, uncapped
Marcell Coetzee, The Sharks, 3 caps
Keegan Daniel, The Sharks, 3 caps
Jean de Villiers, DHL Western Province, 75 caps (captain)
Bismarck du Plessis, The Sharks, 45 caps
Jannie du Plessis, The Sharks, 33 caps
JJ Engelbrecht, Vodacom Blue Bulls, uncapped
Eben Etzebeth, DHL Western Province, 3 caps
Dean Greyling, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 2 caps
Bryan Habana, DHL Western Province, 77 caps
Francois Hougaard, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 18 caps
Elton Jantjies, MTN Golden Lions, uncapped
Zane Kirchner, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 15 caps
Siya Kolisi, DHL Western Province, uncapped
Juandré Kruger, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 3 caps
Patrick Lambie, The Sharks, 13 caps
Tendai Mtawarira, The Sharks, 35 caps
Lwazi Mvovo, The Sharks, 4 caps
Ruan Pienaar, Ulster, Northern Ireland, 54 caps
JP Pietersen, The Sharks 45 caps
Jacques Potgieter, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 1 cap
Chiliboy Ralepelle, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 21 caps
Pierre Spies, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 50 caps
Frans Steyn, The Sharks, 49 caps
Morné Steyn, Vodacom Blue Bulls,, 37 caps
Adriaan Strauss, Toyota FS Cheetahs, 12 caps
Flip van der Merwe, Vodacom Blue Bulls, 14 caps
Jano Vermaak, Vodacom Blue Bulls, uncapped.

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