Experienced Springbok midfielder Juan de Jongh was on Friday named captain of the South African ‘A’ team by coach Johan Ackermann as the squad settled in their training routine in Durban in preparation for the two-match series against a strong French Barbarians team.
De Jongh is one of seven players with Test experience in the 26-man squad, the others being Uzair Cassiem (loose forward), Trevor Nyakane (prop), Ruan Combrinck (wing), Lwazi Mvovo (wing / fullback), Francois Venter (centre) and Jano Vermaak (scrumhalf).
“Juan has natural leadership ability, having captained the DHL Stormers in Vodacom Super Rugby, and he is one of the few players in the squad who knows what it means to play international rugby,” said Ackermann.
“I’m looking forward to working with him and the other players in the squad. His fellow Boks will provide leadership and I know Juan will be able to count on their support.
“We’ve been together now for a couple of days and we’ve had a good start. There is still a lot of hard work that needs to be done before our opening match, but we still have a week to prepare. I’m really enjoying working with this group of players.
“As a squad, we are very excited to be the first team ever to play a big rugby match at Moses Mabhida Stadium, which is something all of us will cherish. We believe we’ll be very well supported at this magnificent venue and we hope to put on a performance which the spectators will enjoy.”
The seven Springboks in the SA ‘A’ squad have a combined total of 78 Test caps between them, while Ackermann will also be able to count on the international experience garnered by Blitzbok star Seabelo Senatla, as well as a number of players who have played for the Junior Springboks.
SA ‘A’ take on the French Barbarians on Friday, 16 June at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban (kick off 16h45) and a week later, on Friday 23 June, at Orlando Stadium in Soweto (kick off 20h00).