In addition to the 36 squad members, the selectors have identified 13 players who are currently injured or will be in rehabilitation

Article originally posted on http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

The prospect of South African centres Jean De Villiers and Jaque Fourie reuniting their Springbok centre partnership at the World Cup took a step closer today after the pair were both named in Heyneke Meyer’s 49-man preliminary squad.

In addition to the 36 squad members, the selectors have identified 13 players who are currently injured or will be in rehabilitation, but will form part of an extended squad for the matches against the World XV, the Rugby Championship and the Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

The currently injured players are de Villiers, Fourie, Lionel Mapoe, Brüssow, Du Toit, Steyn, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein and Fourie du Preez. who suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week.

Inspirational Springbok skipper De Villiers looks set to be fit just eight months after his horror Cardiff injury.

The 34-year-old dislocated his knee cap and sustained significant ligament damage attempting to collect a restart in his side’s 12-6 defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium last November.

De Villiers, who missed the 2003 World Cup and was injured in his side’s first game in 2007, saw his chances of featuring in this year’s tournament thrown into doubt late last year.

But after undergoing surgery and studying a detailed plan to get him back to full fitness, De Villiers has been seen back in training with his side the Stormers.

“Jean de Villiers’ rehabilitation is going very well but his return to play will be strictly monitored before an announcement in this regard is made,” said Meyer.

Fourie has also indicated he plans to reverse his decision to retire from international rugby.

“Even though Jaque announced that he had retired from Test rugby late last year, we have had positive talks with him and his club, Kobe in Japan, and an agreement was reached that he will be available for one last season of Test rugby,” added Meyer.

“As soon as he’s back to full fitness, we’ll consider him for selection.

“It’s a long list of injured players but all of them are in the selection frame and we’d like to work with them to assist with their rehabilitation.

“Some of them are close to full fitness and they will start training as soon as possible.

Fourie’s try of the year against Lions in 2009:

“We’ll assess and manage all the injured players individually with their return to play in mind and will do what is the best for the player and the team, even if it means that some of them play for their clubs or provinces if deemed necessary by our medical team and in consultation with their unions.”

The eight uncapped players in the squad are Stormers trio Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch, scrum-half pair Rudy Paige and Faf de Klerk, full-back Jesse Kriel of the Bulls, and Lions duo Franco Mostert and Lionel Mapoe.

Meyer added Super Rugby form weighed heavily and as always there were a number of players who were desperately close to selection, but just missed out in the end.

“This is testament to the great depth we’ve managed to build in most positions over the last few years. It’s good to know we have players outside this squad who will be able to slot in should it be necessary,” he added.

“Scarra has been with us before and he has done a great job specifically in the scrums with Vincent, Steven and Frans Malherbe for the DHL Stormers this year.

“Lionel, Franco, Faf and Elton have been part of the ever-improving Emirates Lions, while Rudy and Jesse grabbed their opportunities for the Vodacom Bulls this season.

“We also talked to Andries Bekker as we wanted to consider him for selection, but upon a request from his club in Japan he was ultimately not picked for the squad at this stage. Hopefully he will be available at a later stage during the season.

“Flip van der Merwe was on our radar but ultimately he has decided to rule himself out of Springbok contention.”

The Springboks are huge favourites to finish top of Pool B ahead of Samoa, Japan, Scotland and the USA.

If Wales finish second in Pool A, potentially behind either hosts England or Australia, Warren Gatland’s men are likely to face Meyer, De Villiers and South Africa in the quarter-finals.

The Springbok squad:
Willem Alberts (Sharks), Schalk Brits (Saracens), Schalk Burger (Stormers), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Lions), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Bryan Habana (Toulon), Cornal Hendricks (Cheetahs), Zane Kirchner (Leinster), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Stormers), Siya Kolisi (Stormers), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Willie le Roux (Cheetahs), Francois Louw (Bath), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Victor Matfield (Bulls), Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje (Cheetahs), Franco Mostert (Lions), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), Scarra Ntubeni (Stormers), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Rudy Paige (Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Handré Pollard (Bulls), Morné Steyn (Stade Francais), Adriaan Strauss (Bulls), Heinke van der Merwe (Stade Francais), Marcel van der Merwe (Bulls), Warren Whiteley (Lions)

Injured/Conditioning squad:
Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs), Lood de Jager (Cheetahs), Jean de Villiers (Stormers), Fourie du Preez (Suntory), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Sharks), Jaque Fourie (Kobe Steelers), Patrick Lambie (Sharks), Lionel Mapoe (Lions), Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs), Cobus Reinach (Sharks), Jan Serfontein (Bulls), Frans Steyn (Sharks), Duane Vermeulen (Stormers).