Springboks call up 'x-factor' Gelant for Europe tour

Johannesburg (AFP) –


Uncapped backs Warrick Gelant and Lukhanyo Am were included Sunday in a 34-man South Africa squad for a four-Test tour of Europe during November and December.

The Springboks face Ireland in Dublin on November 11, France in Paris on November 18, Italy in Padova on November 25 and Wales in Cardiff on December 2.

Full-back Gelant and outside centre Am are among four selections yet to be capped -- the others being scrum-half Louis Schreuder and number eight Daniel du Preez.

South Africa are short of "x-factor" backs and Gelant has won rave reviews for his ball-in-hand approach with Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.

Physically formidable Am was chosen for the start-of-season Test series against France, but a cheekbone injury forced him to withdraw.

Sharks team-mates Schreuder and Daniel du Preez made some Rugby Championship squads without getting game time.

"This squad reflects consistency and continuity, while we also rewarded players who have constantly shown good form this season," said coach Allister Coetzee.

"Warrick and Lukhanyo are two examples of players who have excelled. It is great to have them in the squad and I look forward to working with them.

"At the same time, I feel sorry for (Sharks winger) Sibusiso Nkosi in particular -- he had an impressive debut senior season only to injure his elbow.

"Ireland, France, Italy and Wales will be huge contests and we are looking forward to the challenges in different conditions."

Other players ruled out by injuries include skipper and number eight Warren Whiteley, winger Ruan Combrinck, prop Frans Malherbe and flanker Jaco Kriel.

Lock Eben Etzebeth continues as captain with Whiteley sidelined by a complicated groin injury since the second of three Test victories over France.

Flanker Jean-Luc du Preez injured his ankle in the Currie Cup final this weekend and an orthopaedic specialist will determine whether he tours.

Former Springbok scrum-half Robert du Preez was hoping sons Daniel, Jean-Luc and Robert junior, the Western Province fly-half, would make the cut.

But Robert junior missed out despite playing a key role in the Currie Cup final triumph of Province over Sharks, whose fly-half, Curwin Bosch, was selected.

First choice inside centre Jan Serfontein, who has moved from Bulls to Montpellier, was not considered as he requested time to settle with the French Top 14 outfit.

Loose forward Siya Kolisi will miss the Italy Test to be with his wife when she gives birth.

Fly-half Elton Jantjies and lock Franco Mostert, who play in Japan during the South African close season, and loose forward Francois Louw cannot face Wales as the Test falls outside the international window.

South Africa have won five Tests, drawn two and lost two this year -- a big improvement on a disastrous eight-defeat 2016 season.

They were unlucky 25-24 losers at home to world champions New Zealand this month in their last match.


Forwards (19)

Eben Etzebeth (capt), Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Pieter-Steph du Toit (all Western Province), Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Chiliboy Ralepelle (all Sharks), Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert (all Golden Lions), Uzair Cassiem, Oupa Mohoje (both Free State Cheetahs), Lood de Jager, Trevor Nyakane (both Blue Bulls), Francois Louw (Bath/ENG)

Note: inclusion of Jean-Luc du Preez subject to orthopaedic opinion

Backs (15)

Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Courtnall Skosan (all Lions), Warrick Gelant, Jesse Kriel, Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard (all Bulls), Lukhanyo Am, Curwin Bosch, Louis Schreuder (all Sharks), Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds (both Province), Raymond Rhule, Francois Venter (both Cheetahs)