Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira has been declared eligible to play for the Springboks once again after being awarded South African citizenship by the South African government.
Mtawarira—who had played 22 times for the Springboks before being declared uneligible—is back in the fold for selection after missing the first four Test matches of the 2010 season.
The Sharks loosehead prop is included in the South African touring team for the away leg of the Tri-Nations alongside Bulls utility back Francois Hougaard who has recovered from a hand injury which delayed his start to the season.
There is no space, however, for Racing Metro fullback Francois Steyn who continues to be left out by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers. Long running animosity between the pair appears to the main reason for Steyn's omission from the Springbok team.
Butch James of Bath and BJ Botha of Ulster are the overseas based players in the squad. The group includes 16 forwards and 12 backs.
The Boks—who set out their defence of the Tri-Nations with an away trip— are without a ream of injured players that include: wing JP Pietersen, centre Adi Jacobs, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, flank Heinrich Brüssow, hooker Bismarck du Plessis, and wing Odwa Ndungane. Flank Juan Smith was also unavailable for personal reasons.
“It’s a strong squad,” said Springbok coach Peter de Villiers.
“We are fortunate to have so many of our frontline players fit and available, which shows that our management of the players is working well. There is a very strong core of experience in this group and there are several leaders too. The new players who have come into the set-up this season are rewarded for their good performances.
“We are very fortunate that we have several players who are versatile and can offer us options in different positions,” De Villiers said.
“The Vodacom Tri-Nations is always tough and this year’s tournament takes on added significance given that the World Cup is taking place in New Zealand next year.
“We have a tough start with successive matches against New Zealand but we have had a good build-up and we have shown that we can win in New Zealand over the past two seasons. However, what happened last year is history and we have to look forward and be ready for a new set of challenges in the 2010 competition,” De Villiers said.
The team will depart in two separate groups on the 3rd and 4th of July and will open their tournament in Auckland on July 10 when they take on the All Blacks. They meet the All Blacks again a week later in Wellington before taking on Australia in Brisbane on the 24th of July.
Backs: Gio Aplon (Vodacom Stormers), Juan de Jongh (Vodacom Stormers), Jean de Villiers (Vodacom Western Province), Jaque Fourie (Vodacom Stormers), Bryan Habana (Vodacom Stormers), Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Bulls), Butch James (Bath), Ricky Januarie (Vodacom Stormers), Zane Kirchner (Vodacom Bulls), Wynand Oliver (Vodacom Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Sharks), Morné Steyn (Vodacom Bulls).
Forwards: Andries Bekker (Vodacom Stormers), Bakkies Botha (Vodacom Bulls), BJ Botha (Ulster), Schalk Burger (Vodacom Stormers), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Ryan Kankowski (Sharks), Francois Louw (Vodacom Stormers), Victor Matfield (Vodacom Bulls), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Dewald Potgieter (Vodacom Bulls), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Vodacom Bulls), Danie Rossouw (Vodacom Bulls), John Smit (Sharks, captain), Pierre Spies (Vodacom Bulls), Gurthrö Steenkamp (Vodacom Bulls), CJ van der Linde (Vodacom Cheetahs).