Marx, Whiteley return to Springboks; also 3 new players

Lions Cyle Brink runs in to score his team's first try against the Crusaders during the Super Rugby final in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Flyhalf Damian Willemse is one of three uncapped players in South Africa's squad for the Rugby Championship.

The 20-year-old Willemse was joined by uncapped flankers Cyle Brink and Marco van Staden in a squad of 35 announced Monday by coach Rassie Erasmus.

Erasmus also recalled hooker Malcolm Marx, No. 8 Warren Whiteley, scrumhalf Ross Cronje and center Lionel Mapoe, all members of the Lions team that reached Saturday's Super Rugby final. They didn't play any part in South Africa's series win over England in June, Erasmus' first assignment in charge.

Erasmus decided that flanker Siya Kolisi will keep the Springboks captaincy despite the return from injury of Whiteley, the regular skipper last season.

Experienced lock Eben Etzebeth also returned from injury to take his place in the squad. Etzebeth hasn't played this year.

Willemse has been earmarked as a future Springboks flyhalf since making his Super Rugby debut at 18. He will be the understudy to first-choice No. 10 Handre Pollard and backup Elton Jantjies.

Brink, a powerful blindside flanker, was one of the Johannesburg-based Lions' form players this season while the hard-tackling van Staden has a growing reputation at the Pretoria-based Bulls.

Erasmus added Bath flanker Francois Louw to his contingent of overseas-based players. Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and fullback Willie le Roux, who also play in England, are in the squad after being recalled from international exile by Erasmus in June.

Backs Damian de Allende, S'busiso Nkosi and Warrick Gelant, and forwards Lood de Jager, Trevor Nyakane and Coenie Oosthuizen were left out because of injury.

South Africa's first game of the Rugby Championship is against Argentina in Durban on Aug. 18.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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