Head coach Jacques Nienaber has gone with an experienced pool, with Salmaan Moerat the only fresh face in the travelling party. The Springboks will have to do without veteran fly-half Morne Steyn, though, after he called time on his international career at the age of 37.
South Africa face Scotland at BT Murrayfield on Saturday, November 13, while they also have matches against Wales at the Principality Stadium on November 6 and England at Twickenham on November 20.
Moerat, a second row, is the only newcomer in Nienaber’s squad that featured in the Lions Series and Rugby Championship. The only other uncapped player in the squad is scrumhalf Grant Williams, who travelled to Australia with the Boks for the Rugby Championship.
The main injury-enforced omissions from Nienaber’s squad are Faf de Klerk (hip flexor), Cheslin Kolbe (knee), Frans Malherbe (neck) and RG Snyman (knee). Other players not considered for selection include Pieter-Steph du Toit and Rynhardt Elstadt, who are recovering from shoulder and ankle injuries respectively.
Steyn’s retirement did not come as a surprise to the South African management team. The veteran, who came on against the British and Irish Lions in the third test to win the series for the Springboks earlier this year, made the decision two weeks ago and wants to spend more time with his family. He will however still play for the Vodacom Bulls in the Rugby Championship, and is currently in negotiations about a possible contract extension.
The full South Africa squad consist of 18 forwards and 14 backs.
“This tour is going to be exciting yet challenging,” said Nienaber. “The core group of players who played a key role in the series against the British & Irish Lions, as well as the Rugby Championship will remain together as we build consistency and continuity in our squad.
“We are two years out from the Rugby World Cup in France, and we have close to 20 Test matches before we start our defence of the title, so every match will count in terms of building confidence and consistency as a group.”
Nienaber was delighted to call up Moerat, who has been serving as the DHL Stormers’ co-captain on their Rugby Championship tour in recent weeks and said the lock’s experience and leadership qualities would be valuable as he makes the step up to the Springbok team.
“Salmaan has established himself as a talented lock and captain since his younger days in our junior structures and he has continued to show his class at senior level for the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province,” said Nienaber.
“His call-up is well earned, and we are looking forward to witnessing what he adds to the squad.”
The Springboks will depart for a one-week training camp in France on Friday before making the journey to Cardiff for their opening Test.
South Africa squad: Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Ox Nché, Trevor Nyakane, Joseph Dweba, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Salmaan Moerat, Marvin Orie, Siya Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert, Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Grant William, Elton Jantjies, Handré Pollard, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Aphelele Fassi, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Damian Willemse, Frans Steyn.