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Mbalula calls for full support for the Springboks

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says transformation in the Springboks cannot happen overnight.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Marc Leiws/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says transformation in the Springboks cannot happen overnight and the squad going to the Rugby World Cup in London deserves the country's full backing.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer selected his 31-man team to play in the world tournament amid growing calls for more black players in the squad.

Congress of South African Trade Unions meanwhile has welcomed the line-up which includes eight players of colour having raised the issue earlier this month.

Mbalula says there are measures in place to ensure transformation in rugby in the long term but has once again called for patience.

"That includes effective full sport programme and the question of murdering the targets we've set for ourselves."

He says Meyer has responded to calls for a more inclusive team for now.

"It's imperative for us to address these issues even beyond the world cup but I think Heyneke Meyer and his men have responded."

For now the minister says the team needs the country's full support and he is optimistic that they will perform well.

THE SQUAD

Forwards - Willem Alberts, Schalk Brits, Schalk Burger, Lood de Jager, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Victor Matfield, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss, Duane Vermeulen.

Backs - Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers (captain), Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Jesse Kriel, Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Lwazi Mvovo, Rudy Paige, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Handre Pollard, Morne Steyn.

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