Experienced flanker Francois Louw joined up with the Springbok squad on Monday in Bloemfontein, where the group are preparing for the coming weekend’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against Australia.
The match against the Wallabies is the Springboks’ penultimate fixture of the 2017 competition, and the Springboks still have a change to finish second in the competition.
Louw, who plays for English club Bath and has earned 52 Springbok Test caps already, is the only overseas based player in the squad who assembled in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
He joins the uncapped Cell C Sharks duo of S’busiso Nkosi (wing) and Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf) as one of three changes to the Springbok squad for the remaining matches of the competition against the Wallabies and the All Backs.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said he was delighted to have a fit-again Louw back in the squad.
“Francois has come back fully fit, he had a magnificent pre-season, is stronger than before and has played three good games for Bath. He is ready to play Test match rugby and I have no doubt that, in the absence of Jaco Kriel, Francois is the kind of player that would add value to our turnaround strategy for the last two games.”
According to Coetzee, the Springboks will benefit from Louw’s Test match experience and his craft at the breakdown.“He brings quality in playing towards the ball and making sure that we contest on the ground, not allowing teams to play off quick ball from the breakdown. Siya (Kolisi) and Jaco were hard on the ground and we saw the benefit from their partnership in our previous matches before Jaco got injured. Francois now comes into the squad with his own qualities and he is also bringing experience into that role and to our leadership group.
“He’s been there and done it before, and apart from that he still has a burning desire to play for the Springboks, which is great,” added Coetzee.
Meanwhile, the coach emphasised the Springboks’ desire to bounce back from their disappointing showing in Albany.
“We have a turnaround strategy in place for the two remaining matches. We already got that in motion last night (Sunday), when we spoke forthright and earnestly with the management, the leadership group and all players,” Coetzee explained.
He also added: “Apart from playing at home and bouncing back from that very disappointing performance in New Zealand, there is still plenty to play for in the competition. Although we can’t win it anymore, we can still finish second if we perform well in the remaining games.
“We disappointed our supporters with that performance and the team and management take full responsibility for that. However, we now have to focus on the next important job, which is Australia on Saturday.”
The Bok coach described the Wallabies as a quality side with many world class players in their group.
“They will be looking forward to play at altitude, perhaps looking to play more with ball in hand. We have to get our preparation spot on and make sure we deliver the kind of performance that will make South Africans proud.”
Meanwhile, a couple of hundred supporters braved a dust storm and rain to watch the Springboks go through their paces during an hour long open training session at Shimla Park on Monday afternoon.
The supporters were rewarded for their effort when all the players participated in a signing session afterwards.