Rassie spreads net wide as Boks learn ‘new systems’

Players listen intently during the Springbok alignment camp in Cape Town this week. Photo: SA Rugby

Players listen intently during the Springbok alignment camp in Cape Town this week. Photo: SA Rugby

Published May 25, 2024


What was even more interesting than the processes that Rassie Erasmus explained to players at the Springbok alignment camp were necessary, were the photos posted on social media afterwards.

The 38-man group gathered in Cape Town for a two-day camp on Wednesday and Thursday, and it was refreshing to note the number of new faces who were invited – especially as the Sharks were involved in last night’s Challenge Cup final in London, while most of the overseas-based contingent were unavailable as well.

Here were some, if not all the uncapped players spotted in some of those pictures: Suleiman Hartzenberg, Ben-Jason Dixon, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Sanele Nohamba, Morné van den Berg, Neethling Fouché, Mpilo Gumede, Quan Horn, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Cameron Hanekom, Jordan Hendrikse, Ruben van Heerden and Johan Grobbelaar.

That’s a wide array of talent coming through, and this bodes well for Erasmus’ options for the opening Test of the year, on June 22, against Wales at Twickenham in London, which will be played outside the international window.

Of course, that is also the date of the United Rugby Championship final, and the Bulls and Stormers will be hoping to be involved in the title decider, which would rule their players out of the Bok Test.

There were at least three injured overseas-based stars at the camp in the shape of Kwagga Smith, Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff – as well as Sharks scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse – and their presence will hopefully mean they will be involved soon again, although they are likely to miss out on the Wales clash and the two-Test series against Ireland on July 6 and 13.

The Boks have already been rocked by the absence of the injured Lukhanyo Am, Damian Willemse and Deon Fourie, as well as the suspended No 8 Jasper Wiese, and are unlikely to field any of their overseas players against Wales.

So, Erasmus may be calling on a number of those uncapped players invited to this week’s camp, as well as relying heavily on the Sharks Boks, who include Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth, Grant Williams and Makazole Mapimpi – while new flyhalf Siya Masuku may also be in the mix, depending on which Stormers and Bulls players will be available.

SA Rugby said the Bok squad for the Wales Test will be announced after the URC quarter-finals on June 8, and they will assemble in Pretoria on June 9 ahead of the London clash.

“This camp was extremely valuable in exposing the players to detailed aspects of the game, which we would like to implement this season,” Erasmus said following the conclusion of the camp.

“At the first two alignment camps, we adopted a broader view of what the coaching staff will look at when it comes to team selection, and to introduce the players to the coaches and their ideas, and especially the new members of the coaching team in Tony Brown and Jerry Flannery and national laws advisor Jaco Peyper.

“With our first Test less than a month away, it was vital that we started introducing the players to our new systems, so that they have sufficient time to familiarise themselves with these structures as we plan to select the group of players for the Wales Test and Incoming Series (against Ireland).

“It was great to see the enthusiasm among the players and witness first-hand how they soaked everything in as they attempt to stake a claim for places in the national team, and we believe this will set us in good stead as a squad for the upcoming season.

“As a coaching team, this camp allowed us to get a better understanding of the players and their skills to give them enough detail to work on in the next few weeks before we gather for the first official training camp, which will be hosted in June.”

Meanwhile, SA Rugby announced yesterday that tickets for the Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks and All Blacks at Cape Town Stadium on September 7 will go on sale to the public on June 19, following a public registration process.

Ticket prices range from R250 to R3 500. To purchase tickets on Ticketmaster, you need to register a Ticketmaster account at Ticketmaster.co.za, and a public registration of interest will be held from May 27 to June 9, and a ticket ballot process will be conducted to ensure a fair process.

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