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South Africa
Springboks expand group of contracted players
ESPN Staff
January 28, 2014
The Sharks' Patrick Lambie passes the ball against the Stormers, Super Rugby, Sharks v Stormers, Kings Park, Durban, March 2, 2013
Pat Lambie was a notable omission from the original roup © Getty Images
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South Africa have added seven players to the list of 10 contracted to the Springboks in the latter stages of last year, most notably including Sharks fly-half Patrick Lambie, Cheetahs fullback Willie le Roux and Bulls scrum-half Francois Hougaard.

Lambie and le Roux were considered significant absentees when the contracted group was announced ahead of the end-of-year tour to Wales, Ireland and France in 2013, but their inclusion in the expanded group of 17 locally-based players is confirmation they did enough on tour to prove their long-term value to the national squad.

Sharks flanker Marcell Coetzee, Bulls centre/wing JJ Engelbrecht, Cheetahs prop Coenie Oosthuizen and Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe were also added to the group, which does not feature overseas-based players as the contracts are drawn up in a bid to keep players in South Africa. South African Rugby Union chief executive Jurie Roux also confirmed that JP Pietersen, currently based in Japan, has committed himself to South African rugby and has been contracted for 2015. Pietersen is due back in South Africa in the coming weeks to re-join the Sharks for Super Rugby.

"I am delighted that we have been able to conclude the contracting of a core Springbok group so early in the year," Roux said. "In the past discussions have gone on for some months for different reasons at different times. We invariably reach agreement but we are pleased to have been able to conclude this very important matter so early in the year. A lot of hard work was put into finalising these contracts late last year and we would have made the announcement at that time but for needing one player to come back from leave to put pen to paper. The core group of Springboks are now nationally contracted, which bodes well for the next two seasons as we step up preparations for the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015."

Loose forwards Pierre Spies and Schalk Burger are notable omissions from the squad, as they are still recovering from long-term injury, but Roux said that Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer could add players to the contracted group.

Springboks contracted group (with South African Rugby Union-designated positional designation): Marcell Coetzee (loose forward), JJ Engelbrecht (centre/wing), Francois Hougaard (scrum-half), Patrick Lambie (fly-half/fullback), Willie le Roux (fullback/wing), Coenie Oosthuizen (prop), Flip van der Merwe (lock), Willem Alberts (loose forward), Jean de Villiers (centre), Bismarck du Plessis (hooker), Jannie du Plessis (prop), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Siya Kolisi (loose forward), Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Frans Steyn (utility back), Adriaan Strauss (hooker), Duane Vermeulen (No.8).

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