Coet­zee happy to keep Bok changes to a min­i­mum


EBEN Etze­beth will in all prob­a­bil­ity con­tinue with the cap­taincy du­ties in War­ren White­ley’s ab­sence, but who takes over the Spring­bok No 8 jersey is not so clear cut.

White­ley’s groin in­jury – picked up in the sec­ond Test against France in June and which forced him out of the third Test and the Lions’ Su­per Rugby play­offs – has left the eighth­man side­lined for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Etze­beth cap­tained the Boks in the third Test and is likely to con­tinue in the role un­til White­ley re­turns to the na­tional team, but Jean-Luc du Preez, who deputised at eighth­man in the third Test against France at El­lis Park, is not likely to stay in that role when the Rugby Championship starts next week­end.

At El­lis Park, Du Preez played at eight, Siya Kolisi was at six and Jaco Kriel came in at seven.

How­ever, with Oupa Mo­hoje back in the mix and Uzair Cassiem and Jean-Luc’s brother, Dan, now also in the Bok squad, the make-up of the loose-trio could be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to what we saw in the third Test.

Also, the in­clu­sion of the ex­cit­ing War­rick Ge­lant gives coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee a few op­tions in the back three, while he’ll also keep a close eye on fly­half Han­dre Pol­lard, who’s bat­tled in­juries for nearly two years. The good news is Sharks star Cur­win Bosch fi­nally cracks the squad after miss­ing out in June to play for the Ju­nior Boks and he, too, will be con­sid­ered at full­back and fly­half, fur­ther strength­en­ing the squad.

The big­gest sur­prise in the squad is the omis­sion of Lions wing Ruan Com­brinck. He is un­for­tu­nate to miss out after re­turn­ing from in­jury and show­ing in the past few weeks what he could of­fer the na­tional team in terms of raw pace and strength out wide. He’s also an out­stand­ing de­fender and kicks su­perbly off both feet.

Coet­zee will again con­sider Ray­mond Rhule, Court­nall Skosan and Dil­lyn Leyds on the wings.

The Bok squad will gather in Port El­iz­a­beth on Tuesday to start prepa­ra­tions for the first Test of the Rugby Championship, against Ar­gentina on Au­gust 19.

Coet­zee said he was pleased he was able to keep changes to the squad to a min­i­mum.

“All of the Spring­boks who were in ac­tion in the June Tests and the lat­ter part of the Su­per Rugby cam­paign played very well and I have no doubt they will bring that form with them when we as­sem­ble,” ex­plained Coet­zee.

“Some play­ers have ini­tially missed out on se­lec­tion due to var­i­ous rea­sons, but this squad is not cast in stone and changes can be made as we progress through the tour­na­ment.

“I al­ways said it must be dif­fi­cult for a player to force him­self into the squad, and I am re­ally pleased that through their per­for­mances they have again earned se­lec­tion to the Spring­bok group.”

Coet­zee added he was fully aware the chal­lenge posed by the Rugby Championship teams would be far more dif­fi­cult than that Boks faced against France in June.

“We will have to work even harder to meet these tough chal­lenges against the Pu­mas, Wal­la­bies and All Blacks. Thor­ough prepa­ra­tion is once again cru­cial to our cam­paign and I am there­fore pleased we could man­age to work with some of the play­ers in Stel­len­bosch last week as those play­ers would have been out of ac­tion for al­most a month by the time we as­sem­ble in Port El­iz­a­beth.”


BACKS: War­rick Ge­lant, An­dries Coet­zee, Cur­win Bosch, Ray­mond Rhule, Court­nall Skosan, Dil­lyn Leyds, Jesse Kriel, Jan Ser­fontein, Damian de Al­lende, Fran­cois Ven­ter, Han­dre Pol­lard, El­ton Jan­tjies, Ross Cronje, Fran­cois Hougaard, Rudy Paige

FOR­WARDS: Dan du Preez, Uzair Cassiem, Jean-Luc du Preez, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel, Oupa Mo­hoje, Lood de Jager, Pi­eter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etze­beth, Franco Mostert, Lizo Gqoboka, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Mal­herbe, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coe­nie Oosthuizen, Mal­colm Marx, Chili­boy Rale­pelle, Bongi Mbonambi

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