Head coach Heyneke Meyer recalled Fourie du Preez, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Duane Vermeulen to his 30-man Springbok squad for the opening match of the Rugby Championship against Argentina later this month.
Scrumhalf Du Preez last played for the Boks in the 2011 Rugby World Cup while prop Gurthrö Steenkamp and eighthman Duane Vermeulen have not played since November 2012.
Du Preez’s club in Japan, Suntory Sungoliath, agreed to release him for international duty for parts of championship. He will be available for the three Tests in South Africa and, when he was not available, his place in the squad would be taken by Piet van Zyl.
“We’re very thankful to everyone at Saru (SA Rugby Union) and Suntory who made it possible to select Fourie,” said Meyer.
“Fourie has been out of international rugby for a while and it makes sense to involve him as soon as possible. Piet was part of the squad in June and we know what he can do. He will slot in without any problems when necessary.”
Vermeulen, who had shaken off a knee injury which kept him out of the June Tests, and the experienced Steenkamp, both returned to the squad after playing a vital role in the Springboks’ unbeaten tour to Ireland, Scotland and England last year. “It’s great to have Duane back after he played such an important role for us at the end of last season,” said Meyer.
“It will also be good to see Gurthrö back in the mix. Along with Fourie, they boast 102 Tests worth of experience between the two of them, have been part of very successful teams before and will be able to share a lot of knowledge with the younger players around them.”
Looking ahead, Meyer said he expected a very tough championship and the Boks would have to be at their best to be competitive. “Argentina showed last year what they can do and, while we are mindful of the threat they pose, our focus will be on building on the good things we achieved in June and improving in areas where we were not satisfied.”
The Springboks open their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina at the FNB Stadium in Soweto as part of the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day celebrations on August 17. The following day, they fly to South America where they face Los Pumas in Mendoza on August 24.
The two Australasian Tests of the competition take place on September 7 in Brisbane against Australia, and on September 14 in Auckland, against New Zealand.
The final two home Tests were scheduled for September 28 in Cape Town, against Australia, and October 5 in Johannesburg, against New Zealand.
The full squad get together for training from Monday August 12.
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