Why Rassie included these four uncapped players

As the Springboks accelerate their preparation for the two-Test series against Ireland, Rassie Erasmus has revealed a 39-man squad that includes a host of World Cup stars.

However, the Springbok coach is also taking a look at some newcomers, with loose forward Phepsi Buthelezi and scrumhalf Morne van den Berg remaining with the current Test squad.

Recently, two more uncapped players were included in the squad, namely hooker Johan Grobbelaar and versatile Jan-Hendrik Wessels.

Why did Rassie Erasmus add these players to the Springbok squad?

Erasmus re-emphasised the importance of building squad depth as the team springs into full action with an eye on building toward to the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

“We earmarked Jan-Hendrik Wessels from our Elite Player Development (EPD) system from under 15 level, when he was playing prop then,” said Erasmus. “We don’t have control over where the franchises select the players, but with him being able to play hooker and prop it offers us additional options among the forwards.

“Johan Grobbelaar was also one of the stand-out hookers in the United Rugby Championship this season for the Bulls, while Sacha (Feinberg-Mngomezulu) has also come through the ranks, and he has been part of our structures before with the SA ‘A’ team and he understands our systems and slotted in with ease. We are a at a stage where we are trying to expose players to the Springbok environment as much as possible.

“We had four new capped players against Wales, and we have four debutants in this squad – Phepsi Buthelezi, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Johan Grobbelaar and Morne van den Berg – and there could be a few more against Portugal if we achieve our goals against Ireland, so we could have a healthy new crop of national players later in this season.”

Buthelezi has clearly been identified as a talent for the future, while his ability to cover No 8 and openside flank is in his favour, while Van den Berg adds scrumhalf depth in the absence of injured Jaden Hendrikse.

In total, the Springboks listed eight players who were ruled out of contention for selection due to injury, namely Steven Kitshoff (prop), Jean Kleyn, Lood de Jager (both locks), Cameron Hanekom (flanker), Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf), Henco van Wyk (centre), Canan Moodie and Damian Willemse (both utility backs). 


Saturday, 22 June: SA vs Wales (Twickenham, London)

Saturday, 6 July: SA vs Ireland (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)

Saturday, 13 July: SA vs Ireland (Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban)

Saturday, 20 July: SA vs Portugal (Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein)

Saturday, 10 August: Australia vs SA (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)

Saturday, 17 August: Australia vs SA (Optus Stadium, Perth)

Saturday, 31 August: SA vs New Zealand (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

Saturday, 7 September: SA v New Zealand (DHL Stadium, Cape Town)

Saturday, 21 September: Argentina v SA (Estadio Unico Madre Ciudades, Santiago)

Saturday, 28 September: SA v Argentina (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)

Sunday, 10 November: Scotland vs SA (Murrayfield, Edinburgh)

Saturday, 16 November: England vs SA (Twickenham, London)

Saturday, 23 November: Wales vs SA (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)

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