With three South African franchises in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-finals this weekend, and only a handful of players being free from their club commitments, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has opted to only announce his squad for the international series later next month.
Selected local players will also be invited to join the preparation camps as their respective franchises’ Vodacom URC campaigns come to an end. The available players will participate in a series of training sessions over the next three weeks.
The training squad will be based in Pretoria until Thursday, 23 June, before switching bases to Johannesburg where they will prepare for their opening Test against Wales, which will be hosted at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 2 July.
Their remaining two Test matches against Wales will be hosted in Bloemfontein and Cape Town on Saturdays 9 and 16 July respectively. Dan Biggar will lead the Welsh to SA.
This will be followed by a one-week break before the team gathers in Sabie, Mpumalanga, to kick off their preparations for the back-to-back Castle Lager Rugby Championship Tests against the All Blacks in Nelspruit and Johannesburg on Saturdays 6 and 13 August.
The Boks will then travel to Australia for two Tests and one in Argentina before they wrap up the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in Durban on Saturday, 24 September.
“After months of preparation by the coaches off the field, we are excited to finally return to the field and to put our learnings into practice,” said Nienaber.
“We will start our preparations with a group of invited available players, to ensure that we can deliver quality training sessions, and as more players become available following their Vodacom URC campaigns, they will join the squad.
“We also have to be cognisant of the fact that we are building toward to the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and that every training session and match we participate in, needs to be in the back of our minds.”
Nienaber was excited about the prospect of facing Wales and said: “They will be inspired to show what they can do in this series. One only has to look at the history books to see how close matches between these nations have been over the years, so we have to hit the ground running in July if we want to win the series and get the season off to the desired start.”