Sth Africa’s initial Rugby World Cup squad

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer included eight uncapped players among the 36 he named on Saturday for four Tests and an exhibition match before the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

The Springboks play a World XV in Cape Town on July 11, visit Australia and host New Zealand and Argentina in a shortened Rugby Championship, and travel to Argentina for a Test.

Injured stars, including captain and centre Jean de Villiers, were included in a “conditioning squad” and will be considered if they recover.

“We have done a lot of planning and research and are well prepared for the season,” said Meyer, who wants to emulate Kitch Christie and Jake White and bring the World Cup trophy to South Africa.

“These matches will offer us a chance to fine tune where necessary and provide the players with an opportunity to put themselves in contention to make the World Cup squad.”

The uncapped group includes Stormers props Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch and hooker Scarra Ntubeni, all of whom starred in the Super 15 southern hemisphere championship.

Others who have never worn the green and gold include two scrum-halves, Rudy Paige of the Bulls and Faf de Klerk of the Golden Lions.

Bulls fullback Jesse Kriel and Lions centre Lionel Mapoe and lock Francois Mostert complete the list.

Among those back in the reckoning after falling out of favour last season are Lions fly-half Elton Jantjies and Stade Francais prop Heinke van der Merwe.

Also recalled is Stade Francais fly-half Morne Steyn, whose poor form during the 2014 Test campaign led to him being sidelined.

Omissions include Lions’ try-scoring flanker Jaco Kriel, who was outstanding in the Super 15 this year, winger-cum-scrum-half Francois Hougaard and loose forwards Nizaam Carr and Pierre Spies.

“Super Rugby form weighed heavily and, as always, there were a number of players who were desperately close to selection,” said Meyer.

No captain was named although usual choice and centre Jean de Villiers is recovering from a knee injury sustained against Wales last November and is not match fit.

Another back included among the “conditioning squad” is 2007 World Cup-winning centre Francois Steyn.

He walked out of the Springboks squad early last year over an undisclosed contract dispute and has not played for his country since.

Another centre, Jaque Fourie, retired last year, but has been convinced to change his mind.

“It is a long list of injured players, but all of them are in the selection frame and we would like to assist with their rehabilitation,” said Meyer.

“Some of them are close to full fitness and will start training soon.”

Twice world champions South Africa are in Pool B at the World Cup with Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States.

Squad

Forwards: Willem Alberts, Schalk Brits, Schalk Burger, Marcell Coetzee, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Victor Matfield, Heinke van der Merwe, Marcel van der Merwe, Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje, Francois Mostert, Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira, Scarra Ntubeni, Trevor Nyakane, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Warren Whiteley

Backs: Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks, Elton Jantjies, Zane Kirchner, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel, Lwazi Mvovo, Rudy Paige, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Handre Pollard, Willie le Roux, Morne Steyn

Conditioning squad (injured players)

Heinrich Brussow, Jaque Fourie, Lood de Jager, Patrick Lambie, Lionel Mapoe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Fourie du Preez, Cobus Reinach, Jan Serfontein, Francois Steyn, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen, Jean de Villiers

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