Last night Head Coach, Jacques Nienaber announced his first Springbok squad in his new role. Selecting a 46 man strong squad meant that there weren't many surprises over all in the selection, what will be more telling is which players stay on for the 3 test series, and which are earmarked to partake in the SA "A" game against the Lions the week prior.
The Du Preez twins, Dan and Jean-luc make a return along with Coenie Oosthuizen, Rynhardt Elstadt and Scarra Ntubeni. Whilst new forward inclusions come in the form of Joseph Dweba, Jasper Wiese and Nico Janse van Rensburg. A strong contingent of forwards have been selected, with all of the World Cup stars present bar the retired duo of Beast Mtawarira and Francois Louw.
In the backs there is the exciting inclusion of Aphelele Fassi, Rosco Specman, Yaw Penxe and Wandisile Simelane who have impressed in the domestic season. They are again joined by a plethora of experience with the likes of Willie Le Roux, Frans Steyn, Damian De Allende, Lukhanyo Am, Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk to name a few.
The big talking point around the backline selection is the inclusion of Morne Steyn for the 1st time since 2016, when he last played under then head coach, Allister Coetzee. Steyn has undoubtedly been the form flyhalf in South Africa for the last year and has earned his place well. The role the player will be tasked with playing remains to be seen, as Handre Pollard remains the preferred 10, and the bomb squad approach leaves no place on the bench. Either way, British & Irish Lions fans will be dreading the fact that the boot that sank them 12 years ago has returned.
There are four scrumhalves in the squad with Cobus Reinach, Herschel Jantjies and Faf de Klerk being joined by Sharks youngster, Sanele Nohamba. With the latter likely to make an appearance in the SA "A" game, he will relish the chance to brush shoulders with the incumbents and grow his game under their tutelage.
Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi are both included and with their current form, are likely to light up the Springboks attack. Mapimpi put on a stellar display in his first game back from Japan as he helped the Sharks overcome the Lions yesterday, whilst Cheslin recently won the European Rugby Championship with French based side, Toulouse.
Notable omissions however come in the form of Marcell Coetzee who just returned from Injury after joining the Bulls from Ulster, the player is likely on standby for Duane Vermeulen who injured his ankle in Friday nights clash. Cornal Hendricks is another player missing from the squad, this is due to a medical dispute between SARU and the player however, which needs to be resolved in order to clear his path to selection.
An exciting opportunity presents itself for Frans Steyn, as no player has ever won two World Cups as well as two British & Irish Lions test series. If achieved both would have occurred 12 years apart and would make Steyn one of rugby's most decorated and celebrated players. Not only for his trophy collection but the fact that for more than 12 years, he has managed to stay at the top level of the game.
The squad is set to gather in the coming weeks, as players return from club duty and gear up to face Georgia in two tests before the Lions tour. The excitement at the return of Springbok rugby is palpable and the players now have the chance to show the world that they are deserving of their number 1 rank.