23 May WP Nel to return in all-star Baa-Baas side
Scotland and Edinburgh Rugby prop Willem (WP) Nel is set to make his return from injury in five days time after being named in a 27-man Barbarians squad to face England at Twickenham this Sunday (28 May).
The tighthead prop – who last played for Scotland in the 2016 summer tour to Japan – damaged an intervertebral disc in his neck during a significant collision in Edinburgh Rugby’s European Challenge Cup win over Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop mid-January, leading Nel to require corrective surgery and begin his season-ending rehabilitation.
He has been taking part in full team training since entering Scotland camp with the national team and will now get vital game time ahead of the 2017 summer tour.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “We’d like to thank the Barbarians for allowing us and WP Nel this exciting opportunity.
“WP has been training really well in camp and we wish him all the best in the match against England before he returns to camp ahead of our summer tour.”
There is a sense of familiarity to selection for the tighthead prop, who will be reunited with former Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter – Head Coach of the Barbarians before he joins Montpellier – an run out for the exhibition side he represented with great success in 2009, when they defeated New Zealand 25-18.
He will joined by recent call-ups Ian Madigan (Brodeaux Begles & Ireland), hooker Schalk Brits (Saracens & South Africa), and wings Horacio Agulla (Castres & Argentina) and Waisea Nyacalevu (Stade Francais and Fiji).
The additions mean Cotter will have a group with 1,018 international appearances at his disposal for the match at Twickenham Stadium before heading to the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast the following week.
Also added to a stellar back division are Bath pair Kahn Fotuali’i and Robbie Freuan, Castres duo Rory Kockott and David Smith, and Montpellier’s Timosi Nagusa and Frans Steyn.
Joining the forward line-up are props Ben Franks (London Irish & New Zealand), Mike Ross (Leinster & Ireland), and Mikheil Nariashvili (Montpellier and Georgia), hooker Richard Hibbard (Gloucester and Wales) and uncapped Toulouse No.8 Gillian Galan.
Schalk Brits in action against the Lions in 2013 Schalk Brits in action against the British & Irish Lions in 2013 the Barbarians are facing England for the 16th time since 1990, having won seven and lost eight in the overall series.
They take on Ulster for the first time since 1957 but enjoyed a successful visit to Belfast last November where they beat Fiji 40-7.
Pienaar will switch sides to appear for Ulster and make his final appearance for the province.
Connacht centre Bundee Aki, though, has been ruled out of that game through injury.
Backs: Horacio Agulla (Castres & Argentina), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Bordeaux Begles & Australia), Yann David (Toulouse and France), Kahn Fotuali’i (Bath Rugby & Samoa), Robbie Freuan (Bath Rugby), Rory Kockott (Castres & France), Ian Madigan (Bordeaux Begles & Ireland), Timoci Nagusa (Montpellier & Fiji), Waisea Nayacalavu (Stade Francais & Fiji), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster & South Africa), David Smith (Castres), Frans Steyn (Montpellier & South Africa).
Forwards: Patricio Albacete (Toulouse & Argentina), Steffon Armitage (Pau & England), Schalk Brits (Saracens & South Africa), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse & France), Corey Flynn (Star RFC & New Zealand), Ben Franks (London Irish & New Zealand), Gillian Galan (Toulouse), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester & Wales), Facundo Isa (Lyon & Argentina), Census Johnston (Toulouse & Samoa), Mikheil Nariashvili (Montpellier & Georgia), WP Nel (Edinburgh & Scotland), Mike Ross (Leinster & Ireland), Joe Tekori (Toulouse & Samoa), Jeremy Thrush (Gloucester & New Zealand).