CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa have picked a strong 34-man squad for their next two Rugby Championship matches in Australia but coach Jacques Nienaber warned they would again experiment in their final two tests against Argentina next month.
Utility back Canan Moodie is the only uncapped player in the squad for tests in Adelaide on Aug. 27 and Sydney one week later which Nienaber on Monday described as close to full strength.
But the Springboks, surprisingly beaten at home by New Zealand last Saturday, will make changes in the games against Argentina in Buenos Aires and Durban in September which end this year’s southern hemisphere championship.
Nienaber said it would give his expanded group of players a chance to prove themselves ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France next year.
“We have been working with a large group of players for the last few months and we believe this will pay off in the long run as we look to expand our depth for the Rugby World Cup and beyond,” Nienaber said in a statement.
“Our thought process is that we will have two groups of players – one who will participate in the Australian leg of the competition and another for the Argentina matches.
“This way we can manage the players as well as possible on tour, while at the same time ensuring we continue to develop our depth.”
Nienaber caused controversy last month when he employed a similar approach in the series against Wales, using a second-string team for the second test which South Africa lost.
Moodie has been called up as utility back cover following injury to Cheslin Kolbe and the suspension of winger Kurt-Lee Arendse.
Forwards: Lead de Jager (Wild Knights), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Joseph Dweba (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Sharks), Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff (both Stormers), Vincent Koch (Wasps), Siya Kolisi (Sharks), Elrigh Louw (Bulls), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat), Ox Nche (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers), Duane Vermeulen (Ulster)
Backs: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Warrick Gelant (Racing 92), Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes ), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Canan Moodie (Bulls), Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Frans Steyn (Cheetahs), Damian Willemse (Stormers).
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond)