The Springboks say they had more than 30 players at a training camp in the build-up to the start of the Rugby Championship against Australia in Johannesburg on Saturday. From that squad, a number of players will fly to New Zealand to start with preparations for the second match of the Championship against the All Blacks in New Zealand, while a 23-man squad will be named on Wednesday to face Australia.
Assistant coach, Mzwandile Stick says this scenario has led to healthy competition between the players.
“One thing that is great about the group that we have got now, there is a lot of competition among the players. If you look at last year, where coach Rassie [Erasmus] kept on changing and giving other guys opportunities. If you remember last year we had guys like Damian Willemse, who is injured right now, he was given an opportunity in-front of probably almost 90 000 people at Twickenham and the boy did well for someone his age. So once again it’s good to have competition amongst the players and also to have the balance between the inform players and the experienced players with the youngsters coming in. So I think we are in a good space right now so the key thing is that us as coaching staff to make sure we select the good combinations,” says Stick.
Saturday’s match between the Springboks and the Wallabies will be played at Ellis Park Stadium, a fortress for the Springboks and centre Jesse Kriel, who missed a large part of the Super Rugby season due to an ankle injury.
“It’s always special. I think obviously just lying in the room this week thinking about being able to represent the Springboks again. Hopefully if selected it’s a great opportunity at our home of rugby in South Africa, passionate supporters. It is a big year of rugby ahead, obviously the guys wanna go out and do well and make the whole country happy, get off to a good start and we excited,” says Kriel.