Embrose Papier. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Embrose Papier. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus named his first training squad on Tuesday comprising only 11 players, all Bulls, due to Super Rugby constraints.

The likes of inexperienced scrumhalf Embrose Papier and flank Roelof Smit were included, while Handré Pollard and Jesse Kriel are among some stalwarts in the group.

The first of three camps will be hosted from April 1-4 in Vanderbijlpark‚ Gauteng.

The second camp is scheduled to run from April 8-11‚ also in Vanderbijlpark‚ while Durban will host the third assessment camp from April 22-25.

The Bulls players will meet Erasmus‚ his assistant coaches and the rest of the Springbok management for the first of three sessions‚ in which the focus will be on on-field alignment‚ strength and conditioning‚ medicals and fundamentals.

No on-field activities are scheduled at this stage.

Erasmus said that the camps were planned with the Springbok preparations and the local teams’ Super Rugby commitments in mind.

"As much as we don’t want to disrupt the weekly preparations of our Super Rugby teams, it is equally important that we continue with preparations of the Springboks in the background‚" said Erasmus.

"The Bulls have a bye on the weekend of April 7‚ the Stormers and Lions are not involved the following weekend [April 14] while the Sharks are not in action on April 28‚ allowing us the opportunity to assemble in three groups.

"We will be starting as a new group and it is therefore also very important that the Springbok coaches meet‚ engage and strategise with as many players as possible [who] we have in mind for the forthcoming Tests against Wales and England."

His coaching staff were working closely with the local Super Rugby franchises in the build-up to the international season, Erasmus said.

"As part of our constant engagement with the Super Rugby teams‚ our assistant coaches have been visiting them to help build a strong relationship and to get a better understanding of how they prepare their teams.

"The Pro14 season is nearing its end and we plan to spend similar time with the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs."

The Springboks start their international commitments with a historical clash against Wales in Washington DC on June 2.

They will return to SA to play England in three Tests on consecutive weekends: at Ellis Park on June 9‚ in Bloemfontein on June 16 and at Newlands a week later.

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The following Bulls players will attend the first camp:

Forwards: Lizo Gqoboka (prop)‚ Trevor Nyakane (prop)‚ RG Snyman (lock)‚ Jason Jenkins (lock)‚ Lood de Jager (lock)‚ Roelof Smit (loose forward). Backs: Embrose Papier (scrumhalf)‚ Handré Pollard (flyhalf)‚ Jesse Kriel (centre)‚ Travis Ismaiel (wing)‚ Warrick Gelant (fullback)

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