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Fans lose their minds over Springbok squad selection

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Wednesday Aug 9, 2023

Yesterday, Jacques Nienaber selected his 33-man Springboks squad to travel to France for this year’s World Cup. It’s been a selection marred by injuries and quite frankly odd selections that have left South African fans, in particular, perplexed.

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Springbok fans have been taunting the rugby world for four years now following their 2019 World Cup victory, and for the first time since their victory over England in the final, their confidence appears to be shaken.

With the likes of Handre Pollard and Lukhanyo Am both out of the squad due to injury issues, there is a very real concern from Springbok fans that they will not be able to repeat their exploits of 2019.

The reaction to the squad selection has been one of the bemusement and confusion, not least due to the fact that Nienaber has not just chosen two or three scrum halves, but four.

Whilst other teams may look at this selection with glee, it is important to note that South Africa are never a team to be underestimated. In fact, when the odds are against them, they often play their greatest rugby – a fact that could make them more dangerous than ever.

Nienaber spoke about his selection, saying: “This was one of the hardest selections we have ever had to make,

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“Any of the 42-man training squad would do a great job, but injuries have played a part in the final selection, and time, unfortunately, ran out for some real champions.

“However, we said from the outset that we wanted to name the best 33 players for the World Cup, and after giving 38 players a run in the last four Tests, we are pleased with the make-up of the group, and we know we have proper depth in each position.

“We’ve picked a squad with a bunch of the players who can also cover alternative positions, which we’ll need in a very tough World Cup.

“We were in a great position this year to have so many players knocking on the door for selection, but unfortunately, we could only select 33. Injuries have had a hand in the final selection, but they are part of the game, and we are excited about the quality of the players who can step in and perform at the World Cup level – as many of the players who featured against Argentina showed last weekend.”

“Since Rassie and I returned to South Africa in 2018, we’ve been building to the 2023 World Cup, and we are pleased with where we are, going into this World Cup.

“The coaches and players have put in a helluva lot of work in the last few years, and we have the luxury of naming a squad that features a big group of players who know what it takes to win a World Cup and who will enter the tournament with vast international experience.

“The younger players have also shown in the last two seasons that they can match some of the top players in the world, so we believe we are better prepared as a team going into this tournament.

“We still have two warm-up games left and a road to travel to build player combinations and fine-tune the areas of our game that we feel we need to improve on, so we are by no means the final product at this stage.”

The Springbok squad consists of nineteen forwards and fourteen backs:

Forwards: Steven Kitshoff (Ulster), Vincent Koch (Cell C Sharks), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92), Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks), Jean Kleyn (Munster), Marvin Orie (Perpignan), RG Snyman (Munster), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Siya Kolisi (capt, Racing 92), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby), Jasper Wiese (Leicester), Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat).

Backs: Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles ), Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks), Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers), Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers), Damian de Allende (Panasonic Wild Knights), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath), Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks), Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls).

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