Experienced Louw recalled to SA squad

Experienced flanker Francois Louw made his return to the Springbok set-up for the Rugby Championship matches against Australia and New Zealand -- and has to get used to the unfamiliar No. 8 position. Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Experienced flank Francois Louw was on Wednesday included in the Springbok squad for the two remaining home matches of the 2017 Rugby Championship.

The 32-year-old is one of three additions to Allister Coetzee's squad, alongside the uncapped Sharks duo of S'busiso Nkosi (wing) and Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf).

Louw has played in 52 Tests for the Springboks and earns a recall to the squad after missing out on the June Tests due to a shoulder injury. He has been back in action for Bath -- who he co-captains -- since the English Premiership season started and will be expected to not only fill the fetcher role vacated by the injured Jaco Kriel, but also play a key leadership role.

"Francois is an experienced loose forward who has always performed well for us," Coetzee said.

"He is still regarded as one of the best opensiders playing towards the ball and forcing turnovers. He had a proper off-season for the first time in a long while, and will be a good addition to our loose forward combinations in the absence of several players.

"Francois will also add to our leadership group and importantly for us, he still has a burning desire to play for the Springboks.

Nkosi, a former Junior Springbok, has been a strong performer on the wing for the Sharks in South Africa's Currie Cup following an equally impressive debut season in Super Rugby.

The 21-year-old is currently the joint-top try scorer in the Currie Cup and will look to leapfrog Dillyn Leyds to be the beneficiary if either of the under-pressure Bok wings Raymond Rhule or Courtnall Skosan lose favour.

The 27-year-old Schreuder is included as one of three scrumhalves in the group of 30. The No 9 initially found form in 2017 at the Southern Kings during Super Rugby and has maintained it for the Sharks during the ongoing Currie Cup.

Schreuder replaces Francois Hougaard, who returns to Worcester Warriors in England, and will compete with Ross Cronje and Rudy Paige for a starting berth.

"Louis and S'bu have both performed well this season, and their inclusion gives us an opportunity to work closely with them," Coetzee added.

"They are both in-form players and are making good decisions on the field in their respective positions. Their inclusion and exposure to this level will continue our process of building depth in certain positions. Louis has been there before, but we're excited to expose S'bu to the Springbok environment -- he is in excellent form and we are excited to work with him."

Further changes may well have been expected to the Springbok squad following their humiliating 57-0 loss against the All Blacks last Saturday, but the depth is currently being affected by injuries.

Apart from Coenie Oosthuizen (broken arm) and Kriel (shoulder surgery), who both left the Australasian leg early, Coetzee's options are also reduced by the injury-enforced absences of captain Warren Whiteley (groin), prop Frans Malherbe (neck) and Oupa Mohoje, the versatile forward who will make his return from a rib injury in the Currie Cup this coming weekend.

The Springbok squad will get together on Sunday in Bloemfontein, where they will be based in the build-up to the Test against the Wallabies at the Free State Stadium on 30 September. They tackle the All Blacks a week later, on 7 October, at Newlands in Cape Town in their final match of the campaign.

Full squad:

Forwards: Uzair Cassiem (flank), Lood de Jager (lock), Ruan Dreyer (prop), Dan du Preez (No 8), Jean-Luc du Preez (loose forward), Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock), Eben Etzebeth (lock, captain), Steven Kitshoff (prop), Siya Kolisi (flank), Francois Louw (flank), Wilco Louw (prop), Malcolm Marx (hooker), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Franco Mostert (lock), Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Trevor Nyakane (prop), Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker).

Backs: Andries Coetzee (fullback), Ross Cronje (scrumhalf), Damian de Allende (centre), Elton Jantjies (flyhalf), Jesse Kriel (centre), Dillyn Leyds (wing), Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), Handré Pollard (flyhalf), Raymond Rhule (wing), Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf), Jan Serfontein (centre), Courtnall Skosan (wing), S'busiso Nkosi (wing).