Erasmus names experienced Bok squad for Rugby World Cup

Erasmus names experienced Bok squad for Rugby World Cup

Springbok director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has selected a highly experienced 31-man squad for their looming Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan.


The final Springbok camp in Bloemfontein last week saw Erasmus trim his squad down to 32 men.

Apart from the group of players that were released to their respective teams for Currie Cup duty, Ulster-based flank Marcel Coetzee was the only unlucky member to pick up a tournament-ending injury in their farewell Test against Argentina at Loftus two weeks ago.

That left the Bok coaching staff with 32 players in camp, meaning one player would be left out of the final group on Monday afternoon.

As fate would have it, Rynhardt Elstadt drew the short straw and will be on standby as injury cover during the competition.

His omission means that Lions flank and Blitzbok stalwart Kwagga Smith takes up a seat in the first flight out to Japan, as a useful utility forward in the Springboks loose trio ranks.

Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant was another player who had been tipped as a possible omission from the squad but his form and ability to play anywhere in the back three secured a spot in the squad.

Kolisi retains captaincy

It was hardly surprising to see Siya Kolisi named as captain of the Springboks Rugby World Cup campaign. However, his position was in jeopardy during the Rugby Championship as he faced a race against time to recover from injury and get game time under the belt.

Erasmus had made it clear during the Championship that Kolisi was still his first choice skipper but he did caution that the decision would come down to Kolisi proving his fitness in the final Test against the Pumas two weeks ago.

While Kolisi was sidelined, the Boks were captained by Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits in different games. A core group of leaders had been well-established in the squad as a result and Kolisi certainly won't be shouldering the responsibility alone.

Formidable forward pack

The Springbok forward pack could well be the envy of the sides fighting it out at the World Cup.

The 17 forwards boast a wealth of experience with two players going to their third World Cup - 108 Test veteran loose head Beast Mtawarira and flank Francois Louw.

A number of players will be going to the World Cup for a second time. The list includes props Trevor Nyakane and Frans Malherbe, hooker Schalk Brits, locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, flanks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi as well as eighthman Duane Vermeulen.

This will provide plenty of experience and support to the remaining members of the Bok forward pack, that will be looking to assert their dominance throughout the competition.

Back line boasts youth and experience

The Springbok backline is a bit more of a mixed bag of youth and experience.

Frans Steyn is the elder statesman in the group. The 32-year-old is the only player in the entire Springbok squad to have lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy, back in 2007 when the Springboks won the tournament in France.

Steyn missed out on the 2015 World Cup, but having featured in the 2007 and 2011 editions, this will be his third World Cup campaign.

Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies and Willie le Roux will playing in their second World Cup campaigns.

The remaining backs will be going to their first ever World Cup. It's a big moment for England-based scrumhalf Cobus Reinach who missed out in 2015, after he was cut from the training camp the week before Heynecke Meyer named his final World Cup squad.

Herschel Jantjies' meteoric rise through the ranks of South African Rugby has been astounding. Just last year he made his Currie Cup debut for Western Province and in the space of 12 months, he's made his Springbok debut, won the Rugby Championship and earned a ticket to Japan among South Africa's Rugby elite.

Lukhanyo Am, Sbu Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi have been standouts in the Sharks backline this year and their form in Super Rugby and the Green Gold makes them important cogs in the Springbok backline.

All three are likely to occupy starting berths in the Bok team throughout the competition.

Warrick Gelant makes up the remainder of the Bok backline.

31-man Springbok Rugby World Cup squad:
Forwards (17): Trevor Nyakane, Steven Kitshoff, Beast Mtawarira, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Schalk Brits, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi ©, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw, Kwagga Smith.
Backs (14): Faf de Klerk, Herchel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies, Damian de Allende, Frans Steyn, Lukhanyo Am, Jesse Kriel, Sbu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Warrick Gelant.

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