SA rugby coach Allister Coetzee

Springboks coach Allister Coetzee made some surprising calls in his squad for the Rugby Championship.

Among them is the uncapped Lions hooker Malcolm Marx, while Coetzee also recalled former Bulls scrumhalf Francois Hougaard to the national team.

Explaining some of his decisions, Coetzee says: “I’m excited to get Malcolm Marx involved with the Boks on the back of a very strong Super Rugby season.

“It’s also great to welcome back Oupa Mohoje and Vincent Koch to the Boks  both of them have worked incredibly hard and played very well recently.

“Johan Goosen has been in outstanding form for his club in France and gives us a number of options in the backline with his versatility, while Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh and Bryan Habana were previously not available because of Springbok Sevens commitments.

“We are fortunate to welcome back an experienced player such as Bryan, who will be able to provide great guidance to our young backs, while Juan and Francois also bring vast experience with them.”

The Bok coach explained the decision not to select experienced winger JP Pietersen and Willie le Roux as follows: “JP and I recently held discussions and I have decided to give him a much-needed break because he has played a lot of rugby the past three years.

“Although he has joined English club Leicester, he will still be available for the Springboks.

“The same applies to Willie, who has just signed with Wasps. The other players who were part of the squad in June but have missed out on selection, will continue to be part of the process going forward.

“We have to build depth because this is a long haul and a tough competition, and they are not out of our plans.

“It is important that a player such as Scarra Ntubeni, for example, gets playing time in the Currie Cup with his provincial team.”

The Bokke pulled together in Johannesburg yesterday, with the six overseas-based players and two Olympians due to join them this coming Sunday.