Bakkies Botha is the headline inclusion in Heyneke Meyer’s South Africa squad for the November tests, as the imposing second row is recalled to the national squad for the first time since the 2011 World Cup. Two other veterans, centre Jacque Fourie and winger JP Pietersen, have also been included in the squad.
There are four uncapped players, in the shape of Siyabonga ‘Scarra’ Ntubeni, who is new to the squad, and Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Louis Schreuder, all of whom have been involved with the national team before.
Gio Aplon and Johan Goosen are also recalled to the squad after missing out in the past months through injury.
“Scarra’s inclusion, like that of Gio, is also just-reward for continuous great form,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“He’s still young and will learn a lot from our two front-line hookers, who both rate amongst the best in the world, on this tour. I want to expose him to this environment and the Springbok ethos and I’m very excited to work with him.
“It will be great to have Bakkies, Jaque and JP in the squad – all of them are really excited to play for the Springboks again, they have heaps of experience and are world-class players. Pieter-Steph missed a large part of the season because of injury but has been exceptional since his return to the playing field last month, while we’ve always rated Frans very highly and look forward to working with him again.
“And Louis has always been on our radar – he is only 23, fits in with the way we want to play and was impressive when he worked with us in June. Since then he’s established himself as first-choice at DHL Western Province, starting in nine of their 12 Absa Currie Cup matches, and I believe he will learn a lot on this tour, improving even more.”
“We’ll play in conditions we’ve not yet encountered this year, but we want to keep our positive mind-set on the field and hopefully keep on scoring tries,” said Meyer. “We’re up for the challenge. I know the players are keen to finish 2013 off on a high.
“The Welsh have won the Six Nations the last two seasons. It’s our first Test against them since the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and they will be fired up at the Millennium Stadium. This year Scotland finished third in the Six Nations and in our two Tests against them in the last two seasons, they have been a tough nut to crack. We’re not expecting anything different at Murrayfield this year.
“We finish off against France at the Stade de France, where the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007. But we’ve not beaten Les Bleus in France since 1997 and will have to be sharp and focused for this last Test of a challenging season.”
Injuries to Arno Botha, Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard and Jaco Taute meant they were not considered for selection.
South Africa squad for tests in Wales, Scotland and France:
Backs: Z Kirchner, G Aplon, W le Roux, JP Pietersen, B Habana, JJ Engelbrecht, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, J Serfontein, Morné Steyn, Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar, Louis Schreuder
Forwards: Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Bakkies Botha, J du Plessis, F Malherbe, C Oosthuizen, G Steenkamp, T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Scarra Ntubeni