With the commencement of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition just over a week away, Head Coach Robert du Preez, has announced his final 45-man Vodacom Super Rugby squad as well as a 27-man touring squad, who will depart for Australia on Saturday afternoon.

In announcing his 45-man squad, du Preez said:  “The work ethic and spirit that these players brought to our pre-season was incredible and all credit goes to them for the positive energy that has been currently created.  We effectively had a 13-week pre-season and there were no excuses at practice sessions or any complaints about being overworked, and as a coaching unit we commend our players for this.”

FORWARDS BACKS
Beast Mtawarira Andre Esterhuizen
Chiliboy Ralepelle Benhard Janse van Rensburg
Coenie Oosthuizen Clement Poitrenaud
Daniel du Preez Cobus Reinach
Etienne Oosthuizen Curwin Bosch
Franco Marais Garth April
Francois Kleinhans Hanco Venter
Hyron Andrews Inny Radebe
Jacques Vermeulen Jeremy Ward
Jean Deysel Johan Deysel
Jean Droste Kobus van Wyk
Jean-Luc du Preez Lukhanyo Am
John-Hubert Meyer Lwazi Mvovo
Juan Schoeman Marius Louw
Keegan Daniel Michael Claassens
Khaya Majola Odwa Ndungane
Lourens Adriaanse Patrick Lambie (c)
Philip van der Walt Rhyno Smith
Ruan Botha Rowan Gouws
Stephan Coetzee S’bura Sithole
Stephan Lewies Sbu Nkosi
Tera Mtembu Tristan Blewett
Thomas du Toit

The pre-season warm-up matches gave the coaching team the opportunity to see how players faired after 11 weeks of pre-season training to getting actual game-time. Robert du Preez stated at the outset that if players put up their hands in the warm-up matches he would consider them and player ages would not influence his decision when picking a touring squad.

Du Preez kept true to his word by selecting four uncapped Super Rugby players to join the touring squad namely Stephan Coetzee, Jean Droste, Sbu Nkosi and new signing Jacques Vermeulen.  Joining them in the touring squad are the other new signings Kobus van Wyk, Jeremy Ward and the highly experienced French international Clement Poitrenaud.

Amongst the new faces in the squad the coach has also opted for continuity in certain positions by selecting players who did duty for the Cell C Sharks in last year’s tournament.

“It was an extremely tough decision to settle on this 27-man touring squad.  We were initially looking at selecting a 15/12 split for the tour, but due to the cover we have amongst the backs the decision was taken to go with 16 forwards and 11 backs”, added du Preez.

“The 27 players selected have all put up their hands not only during the pre-season, but in the two warm-up matches.  There is a good balance between experience and youth in this traveling squad.  A guy like Sbu Nkosi, who played for the SA U/20’s last year, has impressed me with his strong work ethic and he deserves his chance.”

The most capped Cell C Sharks player forming part of the touring squad is Lwazi Mvovo on 99 Vodacom Super Rugby caps and who is set to earn a well-deserved milestone on tour.  He will join an illustrious club of centurions who have played 100 Vodacom Super Rugby games for the Cell C Sharks.

The 27-man touring squad are:

FORWARDS BACKS
Chiliboy Ralepelle Andre Esterhuizen
Coenie Oosthuizen Clement Poitrenaud
Etienne Oosthuizen Cobus Reinach
Franco Marais Curwin Bosch
Jacques Vermeulen Jeremy Ward
Jean Droste Kobus van Wyk
Jean-Luc du Preez Lukhanyo Am
Juan Schoeman Lwazi Mvovo
Lourens Adriaanse Michael Claassens
Philip van der Walt Patrick Lambie
Ruan Botha Sbu Nkosi
Stephan Coetzee
Stephan Lewies
Tendai Mtawarira
Tera Mtembu
Thomas du Toit

Du Preez concluded by stating: “There are a lot of players in our 45-man squad who are definitely going to be in the mix going forward. There is great depth, but unfortunately, only 27 players can tour