With the dust settling on the 2021/2022 season of the United Rugby Championship and the Stormers players probably nursing their hangovers this morning. It is time to turn our attention to the team that unites South Africa's Rugby loving public, the Springboks. Just 13 days away now from the first test of the year, the Springbok squad will officially be a full compliment as of Monday.
Most of the squad has already gathered by now, with only those whose teams were still competing in the finals not yet with the team. The Bulls players who will now join up with the Springboks are Marcell Coetzee, Ruan Nortje, Elrigh Louw and Kurt-Lee Arendse. The Stormers will be sending Kitshoff, Malherbe, Orie, Moerat, Fourie, Roos, Willemse and Gelant. Outside of South Africa, Vincent Koch and Jasper Wiese were both involved in the Premiership Final between Saracens and Leicester and will fly out to SA during the course of the week. The last player set to link up with the side is Trevor Nyakane, who is donning the black and white of the Barbarians today against England.
It will be a huge boost to the Springbok camp to have so many players joining in after having played finals rugby. They should be primed for action and I am sure that many of the youngsters linking up with the Boks for the first time will be more than eager to get involved on the training pitch as they look to earn their spots in the match day 23.
The Boks have just under two weeks now to prepare for the three test Incoming Tour against Wales. The Tour kicks off at Loftus on 2 July before further games in Bloemfontein and Cape Town conclude the tour. On paper the Springboks look to have a much stronger squad as they have very few injury concerns and a good injection of youth. Wales on the other hand seem to be under a major injury cloud with tour captain Dan Biggar possibly being the latest casualty.
With the way the SA teams went against their Welsh opponents in the URC, many are expecting three strong wins for the Boks. I don't think it is going to be that easy though and I fully expect Nienaber and co to name a full strength side for test 1 in a bid to establish some dominance. Should they Boks take a comfortable lead, tests 2 and 3 may just prove the perfect time to blood some youngsters in preparation for the Rugby Championship. Should they fall flat in test 1, the pressure will mount and may leave the youngster in the same position they found themselves in ,in 2021.
I can't wait to start covering the international season now. There is so much going on in July that one may just get square eyes by week 3. I am also extremely fortunate to be attending all of the Boks home tests this year and ready to see the men in action for the first time since 2019.
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