A Springbok squad led by Siya Kolisi, that combines youth with some hardened experience, has been confirmed for South Africa’s seventh assault on the Rugby World Cup title.
The squad named by Mr Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, features three players attending their third Rugby World Cup – Frans Steyn, Tendai Mtawarira and Francois Louw – and 12 players making their second expedition, providing a spine of experience.
Fourteen of the squad made their Test debut since the last tournament in 2015, while six of those have been capped in the past two seasons since Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby, took over the team’s coaching duties. The half dozen are Herschel Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Sbu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi, Kwagga Smith and RG Snyman.
There are five players with more than 50 caps – Eben Etzebeth, Willie le Roux, Louw, Steyn and Mtawarira – the latter being the most experienced played in the squad with 110 caps.
The Springboks have given opportunities to 60 players in 18 Tests in the past two yeats to arrive at their 2019 combination.
All 31 – apart from skipper Siya Kolisi [pictured below] who only returned from injury nine days ago – appeared at some point in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship-winning campaign.
The squad is split between 14 backs and 17 forwards and only seven have fewer than 10 caps. They are Lukhanyo Am, Warrick Gelant, Jantjies, Kolbe, Nkosi and Smith.
The Springboks open their Rugby World Cup campaign against New Zealand in Yokohama on Saturday, 21 September before further Pool B matches against Namibia (28 September), Italy (4 October) and Canada (8 October).
Rassie Erasmus siad of the squad, "We have been developing this squad since the start of last season and in the 31 we have a good balance of established experience and some exciting youth.
“We set out with the goal of growing the depth of the squad and I am confident that any of this 31 can step into a play-off match at the Rugby World Cup and deliver an outstanding performance.”
Erasmus said the Boks had been working towards finalising the 31-man squad for Japan for the best part of two years.
“We’ve been lucky in achieving most of our goals this season – we’ve been able to give everyone in the squad some good game time as well as develop combinations with squad rotation and not lose momentum as we go to the World Cup,” said Erasmus.
“But the results and performances up to now will mean nothing once we are in Japan. It is a case of back to square one; putting in the work on the training field and in the planning sessions to build on what we have achieved.”
Schalk Brits (13 tests, Bulls), Lood de Jager (40 tests, Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (49 tests, Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (78 tests, Stormers), Steven Kitshoff* (39 tests, Stormers), Vincent Koch* (15 tests, Saracens), Siya Kolisi (Captain - 42 tests, Stormers), Francois Louw (68 tests, Bath), Frans Malherbe (31 tests, Stormers), Malcolm Marx* (26 tests, Lions), Bongi Mbonambi* (29 tests, Stormers), Franco Mostert* (31 tests, Gloucester), Tendai Mtawarira (110 tests, Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (40 tests, Bulls), Kwagga Smith* (4 tests, Lions), RG Snyman* (15 tests, Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (48 tests, Bulls).
Lukhanyo Am* (8 tests, Sharks), Damian de Allende (39 tests, Stormers), Faf de Klerk* (24 tests, Sale Sharks), Warrick Gelant* (7 tests, Bulls), Elton Jantjies* (35 tests, Lions), Herschel Jantjies*(3 tests, Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe* (9 tests, Toulouse), Jesse Kriel 44 tests, Bulls), Willie le Roux (55 tests, Wasps), Makazole Mapimpi* (7 tests, Sharks), Sbu Nkosi* (8 tests, Sharks), Handre Pollard (41 tests, Bulls), Cobus Reinach* (12 tests, Northampton), Frans Steyn (60 tests, Montpellier).
*Uncapped at a Rugby World Cup