Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will step up preparations for the forthcoming international season when the first of three alignment camps will be hosted from 1 to 4 April in Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg.
The second camp is scheduled to run from 8 to 11 April, also in Vanderbijlpark, while Durban will host the third assessment camp from 22 to 25 April.
Eleven Vodacom Bulls players will meet up with Erasmus, his assistant coaches and the rest of the Springbok management for the first of three sessions, where the focus will be on aspects such as on-field alignment, strength and conditioning, medicals and rugby fundamentals. No on-field activities are scheduled at this stage.
Erasmus explained that the camps were planned with both the Springbok preparations and the local teams’ Vodacom Super Rugby commitments in mind.
“As much as we don’t want to disrupt the weekly preparations of our Vodacom Super Rugby teams it is equally important that we continue with preparations of the Springboks in the background,” said Erasmus.“The Vodacom Bulls have a bye on the weekend of 7 April, the DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions are not involved the following weekend (14 April) while the Cell C Sharks are not action on 28 April, 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 we have in mind for the forthcoming Tests against Wales and England.”
According to Erasmus, his coaching staff are working closely with the local Vodacom Super Rugby franchises in the build-up to the international season.
“As part of our constant engagement with the Vodacom Super Rugby teams, our assistant coaches have been visiting them to help build a strong relationship and also to get a better understanding of how they prepare their teams.
“The Guinness Pro14 season is nearing its end and we plan to spend similar time in future with the Southern Kings and the Toyota Cheetahs.”
The Springboks start their international commitments with a historical clash against Wales in Washington DC on Saturday, 2 June. They will then return to South Africa to play England in the Castle Lager Incoming Series, which consists of three Tests on consecutive weekends.
Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg will host the series opener on 9 June, the second Test takes place on 16 June at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, and the final match in the series will be contested a week later at DHL Newlands in Cape Town.
The following Vodacom Bulls players will attend the first national alignment 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).