Boks get De Villiers boost but no place for Smith
August 2, 2014
Jean de Villiers is a welcome boost for the Springboks © Getty Images
South Africa captain Jean de Villiers has been included in the Springboks squad for the Rugby Championship having recovered from a knee injury, but there will be no fairytale return for Juan Smith.
De Villiers missed the June Tests against Wales and Scotland but is one of six players returning from injury to be included in coach Heyneke Meyer's squad. The centre is joined by props Tendai Mtawarira and Frans Malherbe, lock Eben Etzebeth, Patrick Lambie and Damian de Allende, who have all made a recovery.
"It's great to have Jean back to lead the side," Meyer said. "Victor Matfield and Jan Serfontein both did superbly well in his absence, but he is our captain and I'm sure he will slot back into the side without any difficulty.
"The same goes for Eben, Frans and Patrick, all of whom have been part of the squad before."
Smith, however, has been overlooked. In July, Toulon confirmed the flanker had been included in the Springboks' training squad, along with Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha.
Both Habana and Botha have made the cut but there is no place for Smith, who has not featured for South Africa since 2010, despite his impressive form for Toulon.
Cobus Reinach is one of two uncapped players to be named in the squad, while June debutants Cornal Hendricks (wing), Teboho Mohoje (loose forward), Lood de Jager (lock) and Handré Pollard (fly-half) have all been retained. Hendricks is a recent gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Speaking of their inclusion, Meyer added: "These players have impressed from the first minute they joined us. This is a step up for all of them, but that is the kind of challenge we thrive on.
"It's never easy cutting a squad down in size and we're fortunate that we have a number of experienced players who will be on stand-by should their services be needed."
JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger are being kept on standby: "Obviously the squad can change during the course of the Rugby Championship and although JP and Schalk were not considered at this stage, they could still feature later in the competition," Meyer said.
Flip van der Merwe (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Fourie du Preez (ankle) and Jaque Fourie (ankle) all miss out through injury. South Africa face Argentina in their opening game in Pretoria on August 16.
South Africa squad for Rugby Championship:
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