Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

SA surprisingly called up Sharks lock Ruan Botha on Tuesday to replace injured flanker Jean-Luc du Preez for a four-Test Springbok tour of Europe in November and December.

The selection caught pundits on the hop as coach Allister Coetzee was expected to fill the vacancy with another loose forward rather than with a second-row forward.

Coetzee justified his choice by saying he had sufficient loose-forward cover, despite there being only one specialist eighth man among 19 forwards.

He is Daniel du Preez, the 22-year-old twin brother of Jean-Luc and one of five uncapped players in the squad for Tests in Ireland, France, Italy and Wales.

"Ruan has played consistently well this year and has been part of our training camps," Coetzee said.

"He led the Sharks to the Currie Cup final and the Super Rugby play-offs and is not only a consistently good performer but also a strong leader."

However, Botha will be fifth in the queue for a lock berth behind skipper Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Du Toit can also be used as a flanker and performed well there in the 25-24 recent home loss to New Zealand.

AFP

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