South Africa ‘A’ coach Mzwandile Stick has named 14 capped Springbok players in his matchday 23 for their clash against Munster at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork on Thursday.
The fixture is the first of two midweek matches on the end-of-year tour, and Stick has named a squad which has a good blend of experience and youth.
Stick brought in two players from the Springbok squad that trained in Dublin last week for their opening Autumn Nations Series Test against Ireland. They are: front-row Thomas du Toit, who will captain the South Africa ‘A’ side, and second-row Jason Jenkins, while the Du Preez twins – Dan (back-row) and Jean-Luc (utility forward) – were called up to the squad on Sunday.
Rassie Erasmus joins Springbok squad
Meanwhile, SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, who was originally set to join Stick and his backroom staff in Cork, has joined the Springbok team in France, although he will continue to assist the South Africa ‘A’ coaches remotely.
Aphelele Fassi (full-back), Cornal Hendriks (centre), Johan Goosen (fly-half) and Herschel Jantjies (scrum-half) are the capped Springbok players in the South Africa ‘A’ side’s backline, while Jean-Luc du Preez, Elrigh Louw (flanker), Ruan Nortje, Jenkins (both locks) and the entire front-row of Du Toit, Ntuthuko Mchunu (both props) and Joseph Dweba (hooker) will all bring their international experience to a strong and physical pack of forwards.
Hendricks will assist Du Toit with the leadership duties and serve as the team’s vice-captain.
Dan du Preez, Sikhumbuzo Notshe (loose forward) and Grant Williams (scrum-half) are the remaining Springboks in the squad and all three have included in the matchday squad as replacements.
Joining Fassi in an exciting back three are Stormers flyers Leolin Zas and Suleiman Hartzenberg, while ex-South Africa U20 captain and Sharks back-row Phepsi Buthelezi will start in a strong loose trio with Louw and Jean-Luc du Preez.
There is an exciting look to the South Africa ‘A’ side’s replacements bench with Andre-Hugo Venter (hooker), Simphiwe Matanzima and Sazi Sandi (both props) named as back-up forwards, while ex-South Africa U20 representatives Sanele Nohamba and Gianni Lombard (both utility backs) are included as as backline cover.
“We are pleased with the quality of the squad we selected, and we are confident that with this thrilling blend of experienced and young players have what it takes to perform against Munster,” said Stick.
“One of the main reasons for selecting SA ‘A’ and Springbok teams for the year-end tour was to cast our net as wide as possible to test our player depth less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup, while also giving as many players as possible top-class game time.
“Most of these players have either been in the Springbok squad in the last two seasons, or they have been on our radar, so this is an ideal opportunity to see them in action against what will be a physical and challenging encounter.”
Stick said his charges have worked hard since they arrived in in Cork on Sunday, and that all their efforts are built towards ensuring that they deliver a classy performance.
“The SA ‘A’ coaches had the luxury of spending the week with the Springboks last week, where they attended all the coaches’ meetings and training sessions to give them a taste of Test rugby and what they will expect this week, and this allowed us to hit the ground running,” he added.
“The coaches, players and team management know what is expected of them and we are working hard to implement our structures as effectively and efficiently as possible, and I have no doubt we will be a tight unit by the time we take the field.”
Preparing for tough encounter
Of the challenge posed by Munster, Stick said: “They are one of the top club teams and they balance their physicality with exciting backline play, so we are going to be tested thoroughly.
“That said, we have named an equally exciting team and we have a number of leaders in core positions. Every one of our players will also want to make the most of this opportunity to throw their names in the hat for World Cup selection, which will serve as an extra motivational factor to showcase their talent.”
South Africa ‘A’: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Thomas du Toit (c), 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Dan du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Sanele Nohamba, 23 Gianni Lombard
Date: Thursday, November 10
Venue: Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove White (Scotland), Ben Blain (Scotland)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
READ MORE: Opinion: Mindset shift a must for misfiring Springboks ahead of France showdown
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