Cape Town - A preliminary Springbok training squad of 20 for the forthcoming tour to the United Kingdom and France was announced on Sunday, with Duane Vermeulen, Trevor Nyakane and Lood de Jager making a return to the group, while Tendai Mtawarira was ruled out of the tour due to injury.
The majority of the squad players have already assembled on Sunday for camp, which will last for a week before they depart in two groups to London next Saturday. Overseas-based players and those involved in the 2018 Currie Cup Final were not considered for the Stellenbosch camp.
De Jager is back in the Springbok mix following a lengthy injury lay-off, while Nyakane, who joined the Springboks for their last two Rugby Championship to continue his rehabilitation and conditioning, is also included in the group. Vermeulen played for the Boks in the 2-1 series win over England in June but did not feature in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
"It is good to welcome back a player of the caliber of Lood - he will add experience to a position where we already have some very good competition for places. Duane, of course, will also bring similar valuable experience to the group," said Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby.
Erasmus also confirmed that Mtawarira, the most experienced player in the Bok squad on 107 Test Caps, was not considered due to an injury he sustained against the All Blacks in Pretoria earlier this month.
According to Erasmus, the Springbok coaching staff are looking forward to start working again with the players following a short break after the Rugby Championship.
"It's a tough tour and our preparation time is limited, but we have set ourselves some goals and as has been the case the entire season, we would like to see the squad continue to grow as a group and add to our depth with the 2019 Rugby World Cup less than a year away," said Erasmus.
The Springboks open their tour on Saturday 3 November at Twickenham in London when they face England for a fourth time this year. The Springboks won the Incoming Series against Eddie Jones' men by 2-1 in June.
A week later, Siya Kolisi and his Springbok team-mates tackle France at the Stade de France in Paris. On 17 November, Scotland host the Springboks at BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh, before the tour concludes with a visit to the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to play Wales on Saturday, 24 November.
Erasmus will announce the full Springbok tour squad for the 2018 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour after next Saturday's Currie Cup final, when Western Province host the Sharks in Cape Town.
Springbok training squad:
Schalk Brits (Hooker, Unattached)
Lood de Jager (Lock, Blue Bulls)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Flank/Lock, Western Province)
Eben Etzebeth (Lock, Western Province)
Steven Kitshoff (Prop, Western Province)
Siya Kolisi (Flank, Western Province)
Frans Malherbe (Prop, Western Province)
Malcolm Marx (Hooker, Golden Lions)
Trevor Nyakane (Prop, Blue Bulls)
RG Snyman (Lock, Honda Heat)
Duane Vermeulen (No. 8, Kubota Spears)
Warren Whiteley (No. 8, Xerox Golden Lions)
Damian de Allende (Centre, Western Province)
Aphiwe Dyantyi (Wing, Golden Lions)
Andre Esterhuizen (Centre, Munakata Sanix Blues)
Elton Jantjies (Flyhalf, Golden Lions)
Jesse Kriel (Centre, Blue Bulls)
Embrose Papier (Scrumhalf, Blue Bulls)
Handre Pollard (Flyhalf, Blue Bulls)
Ivan van Zyl (Scrumhalf, Blue Bulls)