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Rugby - Bok veteran Aplon gets surprise call-up for November internationals

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Rugby - Bok veteran Aplon gets surprise call-up for November internationals

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By Nick Said

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa have named veteran Gio Aplon in their squad for the November internationals, the speedy outside back’s call-up coming six years after he last played for the Springboks.

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Also included by coach Rassie Erasmus are the uncapped trio of wing Sergeal Petersen, centre Ruhan Nel and lock JD Schickerling, who were all impressive in the domestic Currie Cup for losing finalists Western Province on Saturday.

Aplon, 36, plies his trade for Toyota Verblitz in Japan, but has extensive experience of playing in France with Grenoble and will cover the fullback and wing positions. He has 17 caps for the Boks, the last in 2012.

“Gio has a lot of experience of playing in the challenging European conditions from his club rugby stint in France,” Erasmus said in a media release from South African Rugby.

“It is always good to welcome new players to the Springbok environment and I’m excited to work with Sergeal and JD – I am sure they will bring a lot of energy into the group.”

There are also returns for prop Trevor Nyakane and lock Lood de Jager, who have missed the entire 2018 international season so far with injury, while number eight Duane Vermeulen is available again after being rested for the Rugby Championship.

“We all know the value experienced players such as Lood, Trevor, and Duane will bring to the squad,” Erasmus said.

Centres Lionel Mapoe and Lukhanyo Am, prop Tendai Mtawarira, scrumhalf Ross Cronje and wing Makazole Mapimpi were not considered due to injury.

The Boks start their tour against England at Twickenham on Saturday when Erasmus will field a home-based selection as the match falls outside of the international window.

It is followed by games against France, Scotland and Wales on consecutive weekends during which Erasmus will be able to select from his full 36-man squad.

Squad:

Forwards: Schalk Brits, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Thomas du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Trevor Nyakane, JD Schickerling, RG Snyman, Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley

Backs: Gio Aplon, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi, André Esterhuizen, Elton Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Wille le Roux, Ruhan Nel, Sbu Nkosi, Embrose Papier, Sergeal Petersen, Handre Pollard, Louis Schreuder, Ivan van Zyl, Damian Willemse

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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