South Africa beef up preparations for Rugby Championship

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The October 3 game to be played at Cape Town's Newlands Stadium will involve 50 top players reduced from a starting squad of 93 which included 32 Springboks, 13 of whom played in last year's Rugby World Cup success.

 

Known as the Green and Gold sides, the groups of 25 will be named on Friday [SA time] and will be supplemented by seven rookies who, if not chosen to play in the game, will return to their provinces at the end of the preparations for the game.

 

World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus, who stepped back from a hands-on role with the side, will coach one team alongside Mzwandile Stick while new coach Jacques Nienaber and Deon Davids will coach the other.

 

Erasmus said, "We've cast the net very wide for this match, which is a very exciting prospect – as Springbok coaches, we can't wait to start working with the players.

 

"To make this a meaningful exercise, the match-day squads will be only 25 players, but we've decided to increase each squad with the seven young guns for a number of reasons."

That was to cover players in the event of injuries or illness which was required under South African Covid-19 regulations.

 

"This match also provides us with a great opportunity for our younger players to rub shoulders with more experienced Springboks, especially since many of them missed out on Junior Springbok representation this year," Erasmus said.

 

Thirty-two players who appeared for the Junior Springboks between 2016-19 have been involved either in South Africa's elite development squad or emerged during Super Rugby and the Pro14 earlier this year, or the Currie Cup last year.

 

"Even if they don't make the final squads, it shows that our pathway from junior to senior level – as part of the EPD programme – works very well and it was especially exciting to see many of these players getting opportunities at franchise level in the last two seasons," he said.

 

Among those players unlikely to feature in the game are the injured World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit and fellow World Cup winners Sbu Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi.

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