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Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard has a Top 14 final with Montpellier on Friday and will only join the Bok camp later. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/M MEDIA/CRAIG MERCER
Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard has a Top 14 final with Montpellier on Friday and will only join the Bok camp later. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/M MEDIA/CRAIG MERCER

SA coach Jacques Nienaber says the Springboks will have a full complement of their Europe-based players only on Monday, days before the start of the three-Test series against Wales that begins on July 2.

While Wales coach Wayne Pivac will have been working with his players for nearly a month by the time the first Test is played in Pretoria, the Boks have yet to get their preparations for the series fully under way.

Regular starting flyhalf Handré Pollard has a Top 14 final with Montpellier on Friday, while the likes of number eight Jasper Wiese, player of the match for Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final on Saturday, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and lock Lood de Jager have yet to be released by their clubs.

“We don’t have any of our Premiership players,” Nienaber said. “According to Regulation 9 from World Rugby, they only need to be released a week before the first Test match, so they will join us on Monday.

“We have been fortunate to get our players from Japan. Sometimes a national union and the clubs agree [to release players early] and sometimes they don’t.”

The Boks will play in front of their own fans in the Wales series for the first time since they lifted the Rugby World Cup in November 2019, with matches also to be staged in Bloemfontein (July 9) and Cape Town (July 16).

The 2021 British & Irish Lions series was played behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stadiums in SA may now be filled to 50% of capacity, but the government will decide this week on whether to open at 100%, with the country having exited its fifth wave of the pandemic.

“It will be phenomenal for us. We’ve not performed for our country as world champions, so it’s going to be huge for us,” Nienaber said.

Reuters

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