The Boks are also hoping to find out more about the ankle injury suffered by SA Rugby Player of the Year for 2020, Duane Vermeulen, who limped off the field during the Vodacom Bulls’ PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA clash with the DHL Stormers on Friday.
Vermeulen was one of the 46 names read out by SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander, on Saturday evening for the Tests against Georgia (on Fridays, 2 and 9 July), the clash between the South Africa ‘A’ team and British & Irish Lions (Wednesday, 14 July ) and the three internationals against the Lions (24 and 31 July, and 7 August respectively).
The Springboks, who will be led by 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi, will kick off their preparations with a three-week conditioning camp in Bloemfontein.
The first batch of players will arrive in the Free State capital on Sunday, with the overseas-based players set to join the squad as they complete their club commitments.
“The key for us going into the camp is to ensure that we implement our structures as quickly as possible and make sure that everyone is aligned,” said Nienaber.
“With 29 Rugby World Cup players in the group we hope to make good progress fairly quickly.
“The most important factor, however, is to get the foundations in place and reach the required standards, and then we can build from there.”
Nienaber was thrilled about the prospect of assembling a squad for the first time in his tenure as the head coach.
“I am very excited about this squad,” he said.
“For the last 18 months we have been watching their matches, sending them game clips and engaging with them about their performances from a distance, so I am looking forward to working with the players directly, especially with such an exciting season ahead.”
With the first Test against Georgia less than four weeks away, Nienaber said it was vital to build momentum from the outset in preparation for the massive challenge against the British & Irish Lions.
“It is important to build rhythm and confidence from the onset, so we will select our best available team for the first Test against Georgia - we haven’t played a Test since the World Cup final, so cohesion will be vital,” said the Bok coach.
Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby Director of Rugby, spoke highly of the quality of the squad and he said the players’ impressive performances on the field warranted their selection, although he admitted there were a number of unlucky players who missed out.
Erasmus, however, expressed concerned about the ankle injury Vermeulen suffered on Friday night in Pretoria.
“Hopefully Duane recovers from his ankle injury, but we are fearing the worst,” said Erasmus.
“Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game and the South African derbies are usually brutal, so we expect to lose players here and there.”