Springbok World Cup – Our Squad of 31

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With warm up games behind us and the Rugby World Cup squad announcement just a few days away – we thought we’d have a crack at naming our group of 31 for the 2015 instalment of the tournament.

This will not be an easy squad to select.

We say this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, tournament legislation stipulates that the team can feature a maximum of 31 players with 17 forwards – including three different front rows and 14 backline players. Secondly, a number of first choice Springboks are still either nursing injuries or on poor form. Lastly, the conditions in the North can be a massive challenge – pitches will be heavier and it will rain more, both of which makes for a slower game.

So what could that squad look like? Let’s start with the props.

Props (6)

As mentioned, we have to take six props to the World Cup which will mean, based on form, a passenger or two. Experience is important at World Cups – particularly in the front row – and for this reason Jannie and Beast would definitely go. So too would the massively impressive Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch whilst Trevor Nyakane would round out the crew. People might have something to say about the inclusion of Koch but he was one of the best props in Super rugby and deserves to be a part of the spectacle.

Hookers (3)

So we need three hookers and I think this one is fairly simple. I’d take Bismarck for his presence, accuracy in the lineout and ability to turn over the ball on the deck, whilst Adriaan Strauss would be an able sub and understudy. Schalk Brits who plies his trade in the north would be my number three.

Locks (4)

The second row is a place you could shave from if you needed an extra loosie, however we decided that against that. Our starting lock pairing would be Matfield and Etzebeth whilst De Jager and Pieter Steph-Du Toit would also be in the squad. I have never been a big De Jager fan but lately he has brought a grunt to his game that’s changed my mind. Plus, I feel we need cover here due to the fact that one of our locks – though deserving of his spot – is 38 years young.

Loose forwards (4)

This was a really, really tough position to pick. I wanted to pick five loosies but that would mean cutting a lock and in rough Northern hemisphere conditions able, dynamic locks are critical. My first pick would be Vermeulen who is apparently looking good to be ready shortly after kick-off. He just offers the Springboks so much on both attack and defence that he is a player worth gambling on. My other three choices would be Willem Alberts, Francois Louw (another North based player) and Schalk Burger who can also play either flank or number eight. Marcell Coetzee is the unlucky cull here, however, due to the fact that he is nursing a knee injury and probably can’t even walk yet, so he almost certainly won’t be ready in time. Heinrich Brussouw is also an unlucky casualty.

Scrumhalf (3)

Another specialist position, it’s really not one you should be experimenting with. That said, it is a tough one to call due to the fact that Heyneke’s number one, Fourie Du Preez, hasn’t had a run all season long. Even so however, he is a big stage player and is worth gambling on if he is healthy. Second choice would be Pienaar and while it pains me to say it, he has the right kind of experience to compete in the North. Francois Hougaard would get my final ticket – he is just sublime at the moment and the Boks could really use some form in the squad.

Flyhalf (3)

Again, this is another relatively simple position to pick. Lambie, Steyn and Pollard (in that order) would be my pivots. Steyn has had a bit of a raw deal of late and hopefully the coaching staff knows what kind of form he is in, but even so, he is peerless from the tee and that is absolutely critical at a big tournament.

Centres (3)

I am not brave enough to leave Jean De Villiers at home and I doubt the coach will be either. He is our captain and we can only hope that he clicks into gear at the tourney. Damian De Allende would also get a golden ticket as would Jesse Kriel but neither would be used on the wing.

Outside backs (5)

I’ve been saying for a while that Frans Steyn would be my starting number 15 at the World Cup (as well as cover for centre) and I sincerely hope he is available to make the trip whilst Habana and JP Pietersen would be my wings. I’d also include Lwazi Mvovo and Wille Le Roux on the bench or in the wings as cover.

So that squad:

1. Beast Mtawarira
2. Jannie Du Plessis
3. Frans Malherbe
4. Steven Kitshoff
5. Vincent Koch
6. Trevor Nyakane
7. Bismarck Du Plessis
8. Adriaan Strauss
9. Schalk Brits
10. Victor Matfield
11. Eben Etzebeth
12. Pieter Steph-Du Toit
13. Lood De Jager
14. Duane Vermuelen
15. Francois Louw
16. Willem Alberts
17. Schalk Burger
18. Fourie Du Preeze
19. Ruan Pienaar
20. Franscois Hougaard
21. Morne Steyn
22. Pat Lambie
23. Handre Pollard
24. Jean De Villiers
25. Damian De Allende
26. Jesse Kriel
27. Frans Steyn
28. Bryan Habana
29. JP Pietersen
30. Lwazi Mvovo
31. Wille Le Roux

There it is. What are your thoughts on the team? There’s sure to be plenty of disagreement so hit us with a tweet @leftbacks or a comment below!

4 comments:

  1. Only 4 loose forwards to cover 3 positions for whole tournament? Both Marcel Coetzee and Heinrich Brussouw must be on the plane. Add them and exlude one of the props and Morne Steyn.

  2. shot for the comment, Tiaan.

    6 props have to go and like I said, Coetzee is nursing a knee injury so I highly doubt he is even close to ready. If you were to take Marcell and Brussouw, who do you drop?

  3. A good squad, I agree with all, but would have liked to see Brussouw in the mix. JP Pietersen needs to up his game dramatically.

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