White names surprises in squad

South Africa coach Jake White showed his hand with a 45-man squad which raised eyebrows both with its inclusions and omissions. [more]

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South Africa coach Jake White showed his hand with a 45-man squad which raised eyebrows both with its inclusions and omissions.

White and his fellow selectors rewarded Super 14 form for a number of players, and gave five uncapped players a chance to prove themselves at the national training camp in Bloemfontein.

There will be some unhappiness in the Cape for his continued ignorance of South Africa A hooker Schalk Brits and former SA Under-21 captain Luke Watson, both of whom have had strong claims for the national squad.

Instead, White has found places for London Irish hooker Danie Coetzee – who many thought was out of the national picture – as well as Leeds Tykes winger Andre Snyman.

The five uncapped players include Bulls midfielder Wynand Olivier, Sharks halfback Ruan Pienaar, Sharks prop BJ Botha, his lock team-mate Johan Muller and Stormers lock Andries Bekker – son of former Bok lock Hennie Bekker.

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Former Bok flyhalf Butch James earned himself a recall after two years on the sidelines through injury while another forgotten Bok, prop Deon Carstens, also returns for the first time since the disappointing 2001 tour of England, Scotland and France.

"The 2006 season is of vital importance to us, and it is with this in mind that the selectors decided to choose an extended squad," SA Convenor of Selectors Pieter Jooste said.

"We have just over a year left to prepare for the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France and I view the assembly of this squad as the starting point in our overall preparation for France."

White himself was philosophical on the selection, which will be cut down to 30 later in anticipation of the Test matches against Scotland and France this coming winter.

"South Africa is truly blessed with an abundance of rugby talent and the selectors are in a fortunate position to be able to choose from such a considerable pool of players," he said.

"Our collective dedication to a system of continuity and consistency has delivered a good measure of positive results and the challenge is always be to improve on that.

"I want to stress, however, that the door to Springbok colours will never be closed to any player."

The Springboks face Scotland in Tests in Durban (June 10) and Port Elizabeth (June 17) before facing France on June 24 in Cape Town.

They then face an extended Tri-Nations with three Tests against Australia (two away) and New Zealand (two at home) between July and September.

South Africa squad:

Forwards: BJ Botha (Sharks), Eddie Andrews, Andries Bekker (both Western Province), Gary Botha, Bakkies Botha (both Blue Bulls), Schalk Burger (Western Province), Deon Carstens (Sharks), Danie Coetzee (London Irish), Jacques Cronje (Blue Bulls), Os du Randt (Cheetahs), Victor Matfield (Blue Bulls), Johann Muller (Sharks), Danie Rossouw (Blue Bulls), Lawrence Sephaka (Golden Lions), Hanyani Shimange (Western Province), John Smit (Sharks), Juan Smith (Free State Cheetahs), Solomzi Tyibilika, Albert van den Bergh (both Sharks), CJ van der Linde (Free State Cheetahs), Wikus van Heerden (Golden Lions), Joe van Niekerk (Western Province), AJ Venter (Sharks), Pedrie Wannenburg (Blue Bulls).

Backs: Barry de Wet (Western Province), Meyer Bosman (Free State Cheetahs), Tonderai Chavanga Tonderai, Bolla Conradie (both Western Province), Fourie du Preez (Blue Bulls), Jean de Villiers (Western Province), Gaffie du Toit (Free State Cheetahs), Jaque Fourie (Golden Lions), Bryan Habana (Blue Bulls), James Butch (Sharks), Enrico Januarie (Golden Lions), Marius Joubert (Western Province), Wayne Julies (Golden Lions), Percy Montgomery (Sharks), Wynand Olivier (Blue Bulls) Breyton Paulse (Clermont-Monteferrand), Ruan Pienaar (Sharks), Andre Pretorius (Golden Lions), Brent Russell (Sharks), Andre Snyman (unattached), Jaco van der Westhuyzen (Blue Bulls).

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