Matfield, Burger back in Springboks squad

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 01, 2014, 03:16 AM IST

Johannesburg: Veteran forwards Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger are back in contention for Springboks caps two years after they last wore the green and gold.

Lock Matfield and flank Burger were included in a 36-man squad named Saturday by coach Heyneke Meyer for home matches against a World XV, Wales (two) and Scotland during June.

And Matfield could also skipper the Springboks as centre Jean de Villiers has been ruled out of the mid-year games due to a knee injury.

Matfield retired after South Africa lost to Australia in the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, and surrendered a title won four years earlier in Paris.

But after spells as a TV analyst and as an assistant coach with former team Northern Bulls, he returned to Super 15 action this season with the Bulls.

Matfield said he came out of retirement to re-establish himself as a first-choice Bull and win a place in the 2015 Springboks Rugby World Cup squad.

His first goal has been achieved with Matfield even skippering the Pretoria team when fellow lock Flip van der Merwe was unavailable.

And his recall to the Sprngboks squad sets him up to challenge for a World Cup place and, more immediately, a place in the record books.

His 110 caps is one less than record-holder John Smit and he will overtake retired Coastal Sharks hooker John Smit if he plays in two of the three Tests against Wales and Scotland.

The World XV match at Newlands stadium in Cape Town on June 7 is an exhibition and caps will not be awarded.

An injury in the opening Super 15 match of 2012 ruled 68-cap Burger out for the season and other injuries, plus a serious illness, kept him sidelined until late last year

Injuries ruled out several Springboks, notably de Villiers and lock Eben Etzebeth, while hooker Adriaan Strauss will join the squad ahead of the Scotland Test after serving a three-week ban.

Meyer included seven uncapped players, but there was no place for Cental Cheetahs flank Heinrich Brussow, a regular under previous coach Pieter de Villiers.

Forwards in the squad who have not been capped include hooker Callie Visagie, prop Marcel van der Merwe, lock Lodewyk de Jager and flank Teboho `Oupa` Mohoje.

The uncapped backs are wing-cum-centre Damian de Allende, wing Cornal Hendricks and centre Sibusiso Sithole.

Unlike great rivals Australia and New Zealand, South Africa consider overseas-based players and Meyer has included eight for the mid-year matches.

They include backs Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Ruan Pienaar and Fourie du Preez and forwards Gurthro Steenkamp, Schalk Brits, Bakkies Botha and Francois Louw.

Injury-prone flank Juan Smith, whose try helped Toulon win the European Cup last weekend, asked not to be considered.

After playing the World XV, South Africa take on Wales on June 14 in Durban and on June 21 in Nelspruit and Scotland on June 28 in Port Elizabeth.
Springboks squad

Forwards (19): Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Brits, Schalk Burger, Marcell Coetzee, Lodewyk de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Teboho Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp, Flip van der Merwe, Marcel van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen, Callie Visagie

Backs (17): Damian de Allende, JJ Engelbrecht, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh, Zane Kirchner, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Fourie du Preez, Willie le Roux, Jan Serfontein, Sibusiso Sithole, Francois Steyn, Morne Steyn