Montpellier duo out of first Springboks Test

by AFP

France-based South Africans Bismarck du Plessis and Francois Steyn will not play in the first Test against England as they have missed squad training, coach Rassie Erasmus said Monday.

He said they will be considered for the other two internationals as England seek to win a series in South Africa for the first time at the sixth attempt.

Inside centre Steyn and hooker Du Plessis were part of the Montpellier team beaten by Castres last Saturday in the French Top 14 final and have not arrived in South Africa.

"They (Francois and Bismarck) will not be considered for action this week," Erasmus told reporters, referring to the first Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg Saturday.

"It would not be fair on them as they have not trained with the other guys and it would not be fair on the guys who have been part of the squad up to now."

Francois Steyn in action for Montpellier. Photo: AFPWith Steyn out of contention, Damian de Allende is set to start at inside centre, with Lukhanyo Am his probable midfield partner.

The absence of Du Plessis leaves Bongi Mbonambi, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Akker van der Merwe as the hooker options for Erasmus.

Mbonambi was the understudy last season to Malcolm Marx, who has been sidelined for the England series by injury.

Experienced Ralepelle started in a 22-20 loss to Wales in Washington last Saturday and Van der Merwe won his first cap off the bench. 

After Johannesburg, South Africa play England at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on June 16 and at Newlands stadium in Cape Town on June 23.

The Springboks have won three and drawn two of the five previous series against the Red Rose in South Africa, winning eight Tests and losing two.

In the weekly World Rugby rankings released Monday, England remained third and South Africa fell one place to seventh.

South Africa takes on England in a three-Test June Series, kicking off on June 9 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.