France-based South Africans Bismarck du Plessis and Francois Steyn will not play in the first Test against England as they have missed squad training, coach Rassie Erasmus said Monday.
He said they will be considered for the other two internationals as England seek to win a series in South Africa for the first time at the sixth attempt.
Inside centre Steyn and hooker Du Plessis were part of the Montpellier team beaten by Castres last Saturday in the French Top 14 final and have not arrived in South Africa.
“They (Francois and Bismarck) will not be considered for action this week,” Erasmus told reporters, referring to the first Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg Saturday.
“It would not be fair on them as they have not trained with the other guys and it would not be fair on the guys who have been part of the squad up to now.”
With Steyn out of contention, Damian de Allende is set to start at inside centre, with Lukhanyo Am his probable midfield partner.
The absence of Du Plessis leaves Bongi Mbonambi, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Akker van der Merwe as the hooker options for Erasmus.
After Johannesburg, South Africa play England at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on June 16 and at Newlands stadium in Cape Town on June 23.
The Springboks have won three and drawn two of the five previous series against the Red Rose in South Africa, winning eight Tests and losing two.
In the weekly World Rugby rankings released Monday, England remained third and South Africa fell one place to seventh.
England lock George Kruis has signed a new three-year contract with Premiership champions Saracens.
Sarries announced that Kruis’ new deal will extend his stay at Allianz Park until 2021, while South Africa international prop Vincent Koch has signed an extension for the next four years until 2022.
The new deals follow terms recently agreed by club captain Brad Barritt and Saracens’ senior coaching team, led by Rugby director Mark McCall.
Kruis and Koch played key roles in Saracens’ title success this season and last year’s Champions Cup final triumph, while Kruis was also part of the 2016 domestic and European double-winning team.
Koch, who has won nine caps for South Africa, joined Saracens in 2016. Kruis is a Saracens academy product.
“It was an easy decision to make, really,” Kruis said. “I’ve progressed so much in my time at Saracens and we’ve achieved so much as a group over the last few seasons together.
“It is a hugely-exciting time to be involved here, we’ve got a massively-talented group of guys who are all hungry to keep improving. I am really proud to be part of that.”
McCall added: “We’re delighted that Vinnie and George have signed new deals with the club.
“Both of them are phenomenal assets to the club, and we look forward to seeing them continue to develop in a Saracens shirt over the coming seasons.”
Kruis, who played in one Test for the British and Irish Lions on last summer’s New Zealand tour, featured in four of England’s NatWest 6 Nations games this season.
Both players were dropped from Gatland’s initial party after PRL refused to release them – plus Bath’s Luke Charteris – for the game with South Africa in the United States.
The encounter with the Springboks in Washington fell outside World Rugby’s designated Test window, meaning PRL were within their rights to take their decision, but Gatland feels the situation could have been handled better.
“Every other country is playing three games – England are playing four – and we finish our tour a week earlier than them,” Gatland said.
“I understand completely what PRL are trying to do in the autumn when we organise a fourth international. They’re protecting their own competition.
“Players go back during the Six Nations down weeks and I understand that too, but I just can’t understand why they would stop players from joining us a week or two early.
“The club season is finished and the players are going to be back with their clubs early anyway. It’s a sad indictment on the politics of the game.
“I understand and accept completely the views on the other stuff, but this one just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Wales Squad Update:— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) 3 June 2018
Knee injury precludes Steff Evans from taking any further part in the tour. Josh Adams will link up with the squad
Tomas Francis has also been called into the squad as cover for Samson Lee who has been receiving treatment for a lower back injury pic.twitter.com/p3DTXrVe6q
Wales’ games with Argentina fall within the calendar’s window, which runs from June 9-23, and Gatland wasted no time calling up both Adams and Francis.
The arrival of Worcester wing Adams is a boost after Steffan Evans was ruled out of facing Argentina with a knee injury suffered in the 22-20 win over South Africa.
Exeter prop Francis provides tighthead cover for Samson Lee (back), who did not play against the Springboks.
“Josh will be involved for the last two weeks. We’ve got enough cover on the wing to take care of it and both our 10s can play 15 as well,” Gatland said.
“George North can go back to the wing too. It’s a shame for Steff, but it’s one injury not three or four.”
Wales secured a dramatic late victory at the RFK Stadium as Ryan Elias crossed for the match-winning try after earlier efforts from Hallam Amos and debutant Tomos Williams.
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus will have a much-changed team for the upcoming matches with England.
“England will be a step up, but there are 15 of our guys preparing for the games back in South Africa and we know the three-match Test series is going to be tough,” he said.
“In the game with Wales we didn’t have much time to analyse them and there were a lot of new faces on both teams. It will be different with England, they’ve got guys we know well. It will be one proper series, a hell of a series.
“We lost the game with Wales which makes it two defeats in a row and Eddie and England have lost four in a row. We are all under pressure and when you lose for your country, the heat comes on you.”