The Springboks departed for Queensland on Thursday for the away leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship determined to build on their strong start to the season as they look to defend their title in the southern hemisphere showpiece.
The team travelled from Nelson Mandela Bay to Cape Town early in the day where they will board a charter flight to Brisbane with the Pumas.
Jacques Nienaber’s charges kicked off their campaign with back-to-back victories against Argentina in Nelson Mandela Bay, after an encouraging start to the season in which they registered a victory against Georgia and clinched the Castle Lager Lions Series after winning two of the three Tests against the British & Irish Lions.
The team will face Australia on Sunday, 12 September, at the CBUS Super Stadium in Gold Coast, which will be followed by another match-up between the teams at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, 18 September.
These fixtures will be followed by back-to-back matches against New Zealand on Saturday, 25 September at QLD Country Bank Stadium in Townsville and Saturday, 2 October, at the CBUS Super Stadium in Gold Coast.
“The players had a few days off to rest mentally and recover physically from the demanding start to the season, so we are excited to make this trip to Australia and to get back onto the park for the next leg of the competition,” said Nienaber.
“When we arrive in Australia, we will be in quarantine for two weeks, although we will be allowed to train at specific times of the day, and then we enter a challenging block of four back-to-back Tests against Australia and New Zealand respectively, so it is important that we get back into our Test-week routine as quickly as possible.”
Despite entering a different time zone, Nienaber was confident that the team would be settled in and ready for action for the opening Test against Australia.
“We have two weeks to adapt to the time zone and conditions due to our mandatory quarantine period, and that combined with proper on-field preparations will bode well for the team before the first match,” said Nienaber.
“This extra time will also be valuable for the players nursing niggles to recover fully.
“All of the players should be available for selection for the first Test against, so the coaches will be in a good position in terms of squad selection when we begin our preparations for those matches.”
Nienaber said SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus would remain in South Africa for the opening stages of tour, and that he may join the team for the latter stages.
“Rassie has decided to remain in South Africa for now to allow the focus around the team to remain on the Castle Lager Rugby Championship and the team itself so that they can perform to the best of their ability on the field,” said Nienaber.
“He will continue to play active role in our team and coaches meetings throughout the tour, and schedule permitting, he may join us later on.”
The Springboks are currently at the top of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship standings after earning nine points in their first two matches, with the All Blacks in second place on five points after defeating Australia with a bonus point. Australia and Argentina have yet to get off the mark after failing to secure log points in their matches.
Springbok squad for The Castle Lager Rugby Championship:
Props: Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nché, Trevor Nyakane.
Hookers: Joseph Dweba, Johan Grobbelaar, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi.
Locks: Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie.
Loose forwards: Siya Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Dan du Preez.
Utility forwards: Rynhardt Elstadt, Jean-Luc du Preez
Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk, Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams.
Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies, Handré Pollard, Morné Steyn.
Midfielders: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel.
Outside Backs: Aphelele Fassi, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Rosko Specman.
Utility backs: Damian Willemse, Frans Steyn.