CAPETOWN (Reuters) – Uncapped Toulouse utility back Cheslin Kolbe has received a surprise call-up to the South Africa squad for their away Rugby Championship tests in Australia and New Zealand next month.
There is also a recall for hooker Schalk Brits after he played a first test in three years against England in June, while centres Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende, scrumhalf Ross Cronje and loose-forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe also return.
The diminutive Kolbe, who has been capped at international Sevens level, has been rewarded for good form and will cover the fullback and wing positions.
“Cheslin has certainly grabbed his opportunities for his French club and he has earned his spot in the squad. He is in good form and we are delighted have him in the group,” coach Rassie Erasmus said in a statement from SA Rugby on Friday.
Kolbe, 24, was often spoken about as a potential national team player during four years with the Stormers prior to his move to France in 2017, and was included in the squad for the end of season tour to Europe but did not play.
Kolbe is the cousin of 400 metres Olympic champion and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk and his inclusion is another sign of the relaxation of the rules on the selection of Springboks playing for overseas clubs.
Previously players were required to have a minimum of 30 test caps before they could be considered for selection.
The Boks have made a poor start to the Rugby Championship this season, with a patchy 34-21 home win over Argentina followed by a dire 32-19 defeat away to the same opponents in their second game.
They play Australia in Brisbane on Sept. 8 and world champions New Zealand a week later in Wellington.
Forwards: Schalk Brits, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Thomas du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (captain), Francois Louw, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Warren Whiteley.
Backs: Lukhanyo Am, Ross Cronje, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk, Aphiwe Dyantyi, André Esterhuizen, Elton Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Embrose Papier, Handré Pollard, Damian Willemse.
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)