Vodacom Bulls trio, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Marco van Staden have linked up for national duty as the Springboks begin to make their big switch to Test mode. The Boks returned to the training field in Durban at the first of two preparation camps this month to kick into gear for the international season.
This camp, which includes 15 players, will conclude on Friday, while the second preparation camp – which will feature players from the DHL Stormers who are preparing to face Munster in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final in Cape Town next weekend – will run from Monday 29 to Wednesday 31 May.
The group of players – which includes centre Lukhanyo Am, wing Makazole Mapimpi, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, utility forward Kwagga Smith and fullback Willie le Roux – assembled in Durban on Tuesday evening and got straight into the swing of things on Wednesday morning with field training sessions, gym, and team meetings.
They will have a further two field training sessions on Thursday and one on Friday before returning home.
“It was fantastic to see how excited the players and members of team management were to return to the national set-up when we arrived in Durban,” said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
“This is a massive season for us and judging by the players’ enthusiasm to get back to the training field, we are excited about the journey ahead as we prepare for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, our Rugby World Cup warm-up matches and the international showpiece in France.
“With these players having completed their franchise and club commitments, they can now turn their attention fully to the international season.”
Nienaber added: “We have a small group of players at this camp, but this affords us the luxury of giving them special attention. As we said at our first training camp in February, every minute with the players is crucial for us to get our structures and systems in place to ensure that we peak at the right time during the World Cup.
“We’ll have a bigger group of players at the next camp and at our Castle Lager Rugby Championship training camp in June, but this week will assist us greatly in putting the groundwork in place.
“Having a few injured players here such as Siya (Kolisi) and Eben (Etzebeth) is also a bonus, as they’ll participate in all our team meetings, while our medical team have already started working with them.”
The Springboks will begin their official preparations for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship at a training camp in Pretoria from Monday 12 to Friday 30 June. They will kick off their 2023 international season against Australia at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 8 July.
The second Test of the condensed version of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship is against the All Blacks at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland (15 July), before the Boks will return to South Africa for the closing match of the competition against Argentina in Johannesburg (29 July).
The Springboks will play three Rugby World Cup warm-up matches: against Argentina in Buenos Aires (Saturday, 5 August), Wales in Cardiff (Saturday, 19 August) and New Zealand in London (Friday, 25 August) respectively.
They will then make their way to France for the international extravaganza where they face Scotland in Marseille (Sunday, 10 September), Romania in Bordeaux (Sunday, 17 September), Ireland in Paris (Saturday, 23 September) and Tonga in Marseille (Sunday, 1 October) during the pool stages.
Players invited to Springbok camps (in alphabetical order):
Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Thomas du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse, Siya Kolisi (all Cell C Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi (both Cell C Sharks), Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls), Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks).
Springbok 2023 fixtures:
Castle Lager Rugby Championship:
Saturday, 8 July – Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 15 July – Springboks vs New Zealand (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland)
Saturday, 29 July – Springboks vs Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
RWC warm-up fixtures:
Saturday, 5 August – Springboks v Argentina (Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires)
Saturday, 19 August – Springboks vs Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
Friday, 25 August – Springboks vs New Zealand (Twickenham, London)
Sunday, 10 September – Springboks v Scotland (Stade Marseille, Marseille)
Sunday, 17 September – Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday, 23 September – Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)
Sunday, 1 October – Springboks v Tonga (Stade Marseille, Marseille)
Weekend of 14/15 October – Quarter-finals
Weekend of 21/22 October – Semi-finals
Saturday, 28 October – Final