The Springboks squad are set to assemble in Pretoria on Wednesday to resume their preparations for their final Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against Argentina. The clash will take place in Johannesburg, Gauteng on Saturday, 29 July.

This comes after a well-deserved two-day rest following their journey back from New Zealand.

ALSO READ: Etzebeth to lead Springboks against New Zealand

The same extended group of players for the camp have been retained. This includes scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, who was given time off following a family bereavement. Prop Gerhard Steenekamp remains as injury cover for Ox Nche, who is recovering from a pectoral muscle injury. Lock Eben Etzebeth will join his teammates on Sunday following the death of his father.

“We have a settled squad,” said coach Jacques Nienaber.

“Everyone is determined to get back to action and to bounce back following the result against New Zealand.

“We are bitterly disappointed about the defeat, but we’ll take the lessons from that match and implement that as we look forward to our final match in the competition.”

Springboks assemble ahead of Argentina clash
Jacques Nienaber

SPRINGBOKS TEAM ASSEMBLE AHEAD OF LAST MATCH 

The match will be the Boks’ final appearance on South African soil in 2023. “Playing such a vital match in front of our supporters is always special,” added Nienaber.

“This match may not only be the decider of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, but it’s also the last match we play at home before the World Cup.

“That passionate support almost serves as an extra player for us, so we’d like to appeal to SA’s rugby faithful to come out in their green and gold and make this a memorable send-off for us.”

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will make a return as the captain of the team to face New Zealand in the second Rugby Championship Test in Auckland on Saturday.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named 10 of the 14 players who travelled to New Zealand a week ago to acclimatise to the conditions and time zone. Nine of whom will start, include locks Etzebeth and Lood de Jager and the loose trio of Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert and Jasper Wiese.

ALSO READ: Nienaber names a 21-man Springbok group to travel to New Zealand 

Malcolm Marx, who was also a member of the advance travelling contingent, will provide cover as a hooker off the bench.

In the backline, wings Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe also receive starts, along with centre Damian de Allende, who will reunite in the Rugby World Cup-winning midfield combination with Lukhanyo Am.

Fullback Willie le Roux, Am, Damian Willemse (flyhalf) and the front row of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe (both props), and Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) will all start after participating in the season-opener against the Wallabies last weekend, which the Springboks won 43-12.

Eben Etzebeth to lead Springbok team as captain against New Zealand
Springbok team to face New Zealand

Nienaber again opted for a six-two split on the replacements bench in favour of the forwards, which mainly comprised players who featured against Australia, including No 8 Duane Vermeulen, lock RG Snyman and two backs in flyhalf Manie Libbok and Grant Williams, who can provide cover at scrumhalf and wing.

“We planned to select a squad with a few key combinations of players who are fully acclimatised and settled in New Zealand, while also selecting some players who started last week, and we are pleased with the balance we were able to strike with this squad,” said Nienaber.

Springbok team to face New Zealand led by captain Eben Etzebeth

15 – Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls) – 84 caps, 65 pts (13t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath) – 23 caps, 74pts (11t, 2c, 5p)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 32 caps, 30 pts (6t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Panasonic Wild Knights) – 70 Tests, 45pts (9t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 36 caps, 110pts (22t)
10 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 28 caps, 36 pts (2t, 4c, 4p, 2d)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 46 Tests, 41pts (5t, 2c, 4p)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester) – 20 caps, 5pts (1t)
7 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 63 caps, 15pts (3t)
6 – Kwagga Smith (Blue Revs) – 31 caps, 20pts (4t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Panasonic Wild Knights) – 65 caps, 25pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 110 caps, 15pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 59 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 57 caps, 60 pts (12t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (Ulster) – 72 caps, 10pts (2t)

Replacements:

16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 59 caps, 70pts (14t)
17 – Thomas du Toit (Bath) – 16 caps, 0 pts
18 – Vincent Koch (Stade Francais) – 42 caps, 0 pts
19 – RG Snyman (Munster) – 24 caps, 5 pts (1t)
20 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 67 caps, 30 pts (6t)
21 – Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby) – 66 caps, 15 pts (3t)
22 – Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks) – 2 caps, 0 pts
23 – Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) – 4 caps, 19 pts (8c, 1p)

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber on Saturday night named a group of 21 Springbok players to join their teammates in New Zealand. This is for next week’s second Castle Lager Rugby Championship outing against New Zealand in Auckland bringing the total number of players to 35.

The group includes Duane Vermeulen, who captained the Springboks in their emphatic 43-12 victory against Australia at Loftus Versfeld, Gauteng in their opening match of the southern hemisphere showpiece. As well as the front row of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe (both props), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), and backs Manie Libbok (flyhalf), Lukhanyo Am (centre), Cobus Reinach and Grant Williams (both scrumhalves).

ALSO READ: Springbok reveals new jersey, stand-in captain 

A group of 13 players travelled to New Zealand on Tuesday, which included injured skipper Siya Kolisi and a few team management members. Vodacom Bulls prop Gerhard Steenekamp made the journey on Wednesday as an injury replacement for Ox Nche, taking the number of players in New Zealand to 14.

This group will depart for New Zealand late on Sunday afternoon and arrive in Auckland late on Monday night.

Jacques Nienaber names a 21-man Springbok group to travel to New Zealand
Springboks in action against Australia

Nienaber, SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and Bok assistant coach Felix Jones also departed for New Zealand immediately after the Pretoria battle.

“It was always part of our planning that some of the players who ran out in the Test against Australia would travel to New Zealand. Given some impressive performances today, we decided to take a few more players than we originally planned for,” said Erasmus.

“We now have the luxury of having a bunch of fresh of players to work with in New Zealand from Monday. They’ll be joined by a group who have experienced the physicality of Australia and who can add energy and momentum at training from Tuesday.

“We’ll analyse the match on our journey to New Zealand and then announce our team to face the All Blacks on Tuesday.”

ADDITIONAL GROUP PLAYERS NAMED BY JACQUES NIENABER

FORWARDS: Thomas du Toit (prop), Pieter-Steph du Toit (loose forward), Deon Fourie (utility forward), Steven Kitshoff (prop), Jean Kleyn (lock), Vincent Koch (prop) Frans Malherbe (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Trevor Nyakane (prop), RG Snyman (lock), Marco van Staden (flank), Duane Vermeulen (No 8).

BACKS: Lukhanyo Am (centre), Kurt-Lee Arendse (wing), Andre Esterhuizen (centre), Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf), Willie le Roux (fullback), Manie Libbok (flyhalf),Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf), Damian Willemse (utility back) and also Grant Williams (scrumhalf).

The Springbok new Nike Castle Lager Rugby Championship jersey was officially revealed on Tuesday, and they also confirmed a stand-in captain. The partnership was announced in September since then the design and development of the new jersey and accompanying lifestyle collection has been kept top-secret.

The wait ended today when Nike revealed a playing kit that provides the team with the latest in innovation and design. 

WHAT THE NEW JERSEY ENTAILS 

“The launch of a new jersey is always exciting, but the anticipation and expectancy around today has been building for months,” said Rian Oberholzer, CEO of SA Rugby.

“We are immensely proud of what Nike has provided and the feedback from the team has been great since they were kitted with the training gear recently.

“The new jersey honours the traditions of the Springboks in its design and construction while adding subtle nuances to set it apart. We couldn’t be happier.”

Springbok reveals a new jersey, stand-in captain for Castle Lager Rugby Championship
Springbok main Jersey

STAND-IN CAPTAIN FOR THE BOKS 

Meanwhile, Duane Vermeulen will lead the Springboks for the third time in their opening clash against Australia at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber also named 14 players to depart early for New Zealand on Tuesday. This is to acclimatise and maximise the chances of performing well in the first two Tests, separated by seven days, and 12 000km and 10 time zones.

Vermeulen, who captained the Springboks against Argentina and the All Blacks in 2019, takes over the armband from the injured Siya Kolisi and forms a powerful loose trio against the Wallabies with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Van Staden.

SPRINGBOK TEAM TO FACE AUSTRALIA IN CASTLE LAGER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 

15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 83 caps, 65 pts (13t)

14 – Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls) – 4 caps, 5 pts (1t)

13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 31 caps, 30 pts (6t)

12 – Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins) – 11 caps, 0 pts

11 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 7 caps, 35 pts (7t)

10 – Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) – 3 caps, 10 pts (5c)

9 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 24 caps, 45 pts (9t)

8 – Duane Vermeulen (captain, Ulster) – 65 caps, 15 pts (3t)

7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 66 caps, 25 pts (5t)

6 – Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls) – 10 caps, 0 pts

5 – Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers) – 11 caps, 0 pts

4 – Jean Kleyn (Munster) – uncapped for SA (Ireland 5 caps)

3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 58 caps, 5 pts (1t)

2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 56 caps, 60 pts (12t)

1 – Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) – 19 caps, 0 pts

16 – Joseph Dweba (DHL Stormers) – 4 caps, 0 pts

17 – Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 0 pts

18 – Vincent Koch (Stade Francais) – 41 caps, 0 pts

19 – RG Snyman (Munster) – 23 caps, 5 pts (1t)

20 – Evan Roos (DHL Stormers) – 3 caps, 0 pts

21 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 5 caps, 0 pts

22 – Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks) – 1 cap, 0 pts

23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 27 caps, 36 pts (2t, 4c, 4p, 2d)

The Springboks will kick off a bumper 2023 season against Australia in Pretoria in July ahead of the Rugby World Cup. They are also scheduled to kickstart the opening round of the shortened Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

They will face Argentina in Johannesburg in their final match on home soil. This is before the build-up to their Rugby World Cup defence starts.

The Boks will travel to Argentina to take on the Pumas in August before facing Wales and the All Blacks in Rugby World Cup warm-up matches. The warm up matches are scheduled for Cardiff and London in the final build-up to the global showpiece in France.

The Rugby World Cup kick-offs which kicks off on the second weekend in September.

The Boks will also kick off the international season on Saturday, 8 July, with their opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. They will then travel to New Zealand to face the All Blacks on Saturday, 17 July.

Siya Kolisi captain side will then return to South Africa to wrap up their campaign against the Pumas at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday, 29 July.

BOKS RUGBY WORLD CUP SCHEDULE

South Africa will also launch their Rugby World Cup title defence on Sunday, 10 September, against Scotland in Marseille. It will be followed by pool matches against Romania in Bordeaux, 17 September. Ireland in Paris, 23 September and Tonga in Marseille, 1 October.

The Rugby World Cup quarter-finals will be played on the weekend of 14/15 October. Semifinals on 20/21 October and the final on Saturday, 28 October.

Siya Kolisi lift Rugby World Cup Trophy
Siya Kolisi lift Rugby World Cup Trophy

“Loftus Versfeld and Emirates Airline Park are iconic stadiums, and we also thoroughly enjoy the fanatic support from the home crowds at these venues. So, we are thrilled to start off what is a vital season for the team at these stadiums,” said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.

“These Castle Lager Rugby Championship matches are going to be crucial as we look to get our Rugby World Cup season off to a good start. Playing against New Zealand away and Australia and Argentina on the highveld will be ideal for our preparation.”

SPRINGBOK 2023 FIXTURES:

Castle Lager Rugby Championship:

8 July – Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)

17 July – Springboks vs New Zealand (venue TBC)

29 July – Springboks vs Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

RWC warm-up fixtures:

Saturday, 5 August – Springboks v Argentina (venue TBC)

Saturday, 19 August – Springboks vs Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)

Friday, 25 August – SA vs New Zealand (Twickenham, London)

RWC pool fixtures:

Sunday, 10 September – Springboks v Scotland (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)

Sunday, 17 September – Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)

Saturday, 23 September – Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)

Sunday, 1 October – Springboks v Tonga (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)

Weekend of 14/15 October – Quarter-finals

Weekend of 21/22 October – Semi-finals

Saturday, 28 October – Final