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Boks release players to Carling Currie Cup squads

Of the nine players due to return to the Boks on Sunday, six have Test appearances under their belts: Trevor Nyakane (prop), Makazole Mapimpi, Edwill van der Merwe (both wings), Andre Esterhuizen, Lukhanyo Am (both midfield) and Aphelele Fassi (fullback), while the other three players are Jan-Hendrik Wessels (prop), Phepsi Buthelezi (loose forward) and Morne van den Berg (scrumhalf).

These players are expected to add experience and skill to the Carling Currie Cup squad, while also getting valuable playing time for the coaching staff in their historic Test match against Portugal.

“We have a big squad at the moment and while it is valuable to have so many players in training, it is also important to keep our players in match form,” Erasmus said.

“Playing in the Carling Currie Cup is ideal because we are based locally and the players are just a flight away. We completed the groundwork on Wednesday with the full squad for Saturday’s Test and only the captaincy run-in remains on Friday so it makes sense to send some players back to their unions to play some rugby.

“Not only will this keep them sharp individually, but it will also help our case if we put in a good performance against Ireland this week and then decide to mix things up in terms of team selection against Portugal.”

Erasmus praised the players for their hard work and dedication in training since joining the squad and said he was confident most would make their Springbok debuts at some stage this season as the squad prepares for the 2027 Australia Rugby World Cup.

“A number of the players played against Wales at Twickenham and I’m sure they’re excited to get back on the pitch in a real match before rejoining us on Sunday,” Erasmus said. “Other players haven’t played rugby for a few weeks but they’ve worked very hard and purposefully for us.

“The truth is there is no substitute for real game time. We know they will come back even sharper and hopefully we can give most of them a chance against Portugal.”

Erasmus added: “Building squad depth has been one of our key principles since 2018 and as I said we are moving towards 2027 so it is important that we give some of the young players the chance to prove themselves at international level.”