IRB Nations Cup
Emerging South Africa coach Chester Williams has unveiled the squad of 26 players who will travel to Romania to defend their IRB Nations Cup title in the capital city Bucharest from 11-20 June.
Williams, a World Cup winner with South Africa on home soil in 1995, takes over the Emerging South Africa reins from new Springbok coach Peter de Villiers for a tournament which sees them play Georgia, Italy A and Romania.
"It is the first time I will be involved in it. I spoke to Peter de Villiers and he said it is not going to be an easy Nations Cup because Romania and Georgia both normally qualify for the Rugby World Cups," Williams told Total Rugby Radio.
"We all know how well Georgia have done in the last Rugby World Cup, so it will be quite a difficult task for South Africa to go there and defend their title. It is going to be a difficult competition to go and win because you have to perform to make sure that you can win the games.
Grooming the next Springboks
"My overall hope is that obviously we would love to win the tournament and then we need to make sure that we not only win but we improve on last year's performance to make sure when we come back the people will be proud of the team."
Williams is certainly no stranger to Romania, having been coaching there until recently as director of rugby at Dinamo Bucharest, but he is convinced that South Africa has the players with the talent to not only defend the title but become the next generation of Springboks.
"I think the talent is there. It is a young team and this team has been groomed to be the next Springbok team within the next two or three years, so it is an opportunity for me to work with these players and make them better players for South Africa's future.
"It is very exciting to see these players and the talent they have got and I almost just have to manage them and give them the right direction to where they want to become a Springbok and how they can become a Springbok and a consistent Springbok as well."
The squad, which assembles in Cape Town on Thursday, features three players - Howard Noble, Hilton Lobberts and Sangoni Mxoli - who helped Emerging South Africa beat Romania, Georgia and Argentina A to lift the Nations Cup trophy in 2007.
Emerging South Africa squad:
Backs: Justin St Jerry (Xerox Golden Lions), Sarel Pretorius (Wildeklawer Griquas), Isma-eel Dollie (Vodacom Western Province), Rocco Jansen (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Morgan Newman (Vodacom Western Province), Howard Noble (Vodacom Free State Cheetahs), Bjorn Basson (Wildeklawer Griquas), Joey Mongalo (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Lollo Waka (Leopards), Rudi Vogt (Pumas), Jody Rose (Xerox Golden Lions), Richard Lawson (Vodacom Western Province).
Forwards: Janro van Niekerk (Boland Cavaliers), Greg van Jaarsveld (Border Bulldogs), Phillip Lemmer (Vodacom Free State Cheetahs), Kobus Grobler (Xerox Golden Lions), Hendrik Roodt (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Zolani Mofu (Boland Cavaliers), Hilton Lobberts (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Devon Raubenheimer (SWD Eagles), Jody Jenneker (Natal Wildebeest), Sangoni Mxoli (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Jacobie Adriaanse (Vodacom Western Province), Berend Botha (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Carel Hoffman (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Robert Kruger (Leopards).
Click here to listen to an interview with Chester Williams on the current Total Rugby Radio show - available until Thursday at 18:00 UK time...
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