NELSPRUIT – While the overseas contingent has been reduced from seven to five after the knee injuries to No 8 Duane Vermeulen and scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee still expressed his satisfaction with the addition of the foreign-based players.
Vermeulen and Hougaard will both miss the two Tests against Argentina in Nelspruit this weekend and the return Test a week later in Salta.
“Really happy and excited to have the overseas players back and being together as a full compliment,” said Coetzee.
“And when we assembled on Sunday in Johannesburg there was quite a nice buzz around the team and excitement and obviously we are looking forward to a tough Championship,” said Coetzee.
Remaining overseas players in the squad include Morne Steyn, Johan Goosen, Steven Kitshoff, Francois Louw and Bryan Habana.
“There are players who are actually starting their Bok journey with me for the first time and looking forward to be working with those kind of players.
“And then there’s a continuation from the June series where they got their feedback and want to improve because this is a tough competition, make no mistake, not taking anything away from the Irish series – but this is a different challenge.
“Argentina are a tough team when they put on their national colours and we are aware of that – and the most important game is this weekend,” said Coetzee.
A week before the Super Rugby final a squad of 14 convened in Stellenbosch. Last Thursday the nine Lions players joined them, while eight more players joined on Sunday, including Sevens players such as Juan de Jongh and Hougaard.
Since then prop Trevor Nyakane, Vermeulen and Hougaard pulled out with injury, while on Tuesday flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe and wing Lwazi Mvovo were released, which leaves 26 players, who will in all likelihood be the group who will travel to Salta.
“When the Lions Boks joined us there was excitement the first couple of days; it was wonderful,” said Coetzee.
“In Stellenbosch the week before that, we sorted out a lot of problems – and then last week we went through evaluation and injuries.
“So it was actually three groups and now we are a full compliment and very excited about what I saw in training since Monday in Nelspruit,” said Coetzee.