World champion Springboks Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger have been 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.
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.
“Victor and Schalk have been out of rugby for a long time. They’ve really been in great form recently and the fact that they have not been with the Boks for more than two years, has made them hungry for Test rugby yet again,” said Meyer.
“It’s great to welcome them back into the Springbok fold and I know both of them can still add a lot of value to the team with the Rugby World Cup in 2015 looming.
“I’m also looking forward to working with Heinrich Brüssow for the first time. He’s been playing very well for the Toyota Cheetahs since returning from injury and brings a lot of experience.
“However, the message to every player in this training squad is clear – everyone must accelerate in each area from the first moment we are together as a team and that inclusion in this squad is no guarantee of selection.”
Players based in France, England and Ireland were not considered for this camp as most of them are still playing for their respective clubs.
However, the experienced Fourie du Preez, who played for the Springboks in 2013, has been invited to the camp in Durban as he is available for the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Wales and Scotland as well as against the Samsung-sponsored World XV.
The players invited to the training camp will assemble in Durban on Sunday morning and will return to their franchises on Wednesday morning.
Players who were involved with the Springboks last year, but were not considered for selection because of medium to long-term injuries, are Scarra Ntubeni (foot), Chiliboy Ralepelle (knee), Frik Kirsten (neck), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Franco van der Merwe (ankle), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Louis Schreuder (hand), Pat Lambie (bicep), Gio Aplon (elbow) and Jaque Fourie, who could potentially miss the entire Test season because of an ankle injury.
The 36-man Springbok training squad is:
Forwards (20): Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Toyota Cheetahs), Marcel van der Merwe (Vodacom Bulls)*, Jannie du Plessis (Cell C Sharks), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Coenie Oosthuizen (Toyota Cheetahs), Bismarck du Plessis (Cell C Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (Toyota Cheetahs), Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers), Lood de Jager (Toyota Cheetahs)*, Victor Matfield (Vodacom Bulls), Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Bulls), Heinrich Brüssow (Toyota Cheetahs), Marcell Coetzee (Cell C Sharks), Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers), Willem Alberts (Cell C Sharks), Jacques du Plessis (Vodacom Bulls)*, Teboho Mohoje (Toyota Cheetahs)*, Duane Vermeulen (DHL Stormers), Schalk Burger (DHL Stormers).
Backs (16): Fourie du Preez (Suntory, Japan), Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Bulls), Johan Goosen (Toyota Cheetahs), Marnitz Boshoff (Lions)*, Jean de Villiers (DHL Stormers), Damian De Allende (DHL Stormers)*, Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Bulls), Juan de Jongh (DHL Stormers), JJ Engelbrecht (Vodacom Bulls), S’bura Sithole (Cell C Sharks)*, Frans Steyn (Cell C Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Cell C Sharks), Bjorn Basson (Vodacom Bulls), JP Pietersen (Cell C Sharks), Cornal Hendricks (Toyota Cheetahs)*, Willie le Roux (Toyota Cheetahs).
* – Uncapped at Test level