With the Springbok training squad announced for the Rugby Championship, we can start to see how head coach Rassie Erasmus is planning for Rugby World Cup 2019.
Springbok training squad
The following players make up the 39 member squad:
Schalk Brits (Vodacom Bulls), Marcell Coetzee (Ulster, Ireland), Lood de Jager (Vodacom Bulls), Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks), Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), Rynardt Elstadt (Toulouse, France), Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers), Lizo Gqoboka (Vodacom Bulls), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens, England), Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers), Francois Louw (Bath), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England), Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), Marvin Orie (Emirates Lions), Kwagga Smith (Emirates Lions), RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Vodacom Bulls)
Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), Andre Esterhuizen (Cell C Sharks), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England), Aphiwe Dyantyi (Emirates Lions), Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions), Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France), Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), Dillyn Lleyds (DHL Stormers), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks), Sibusiso Nkosi (Cell C Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz, Japan), Handre Pollard (Vodacom Bulls), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints, England), Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France)
The following players were not considered due to injury:
Ruan Botha, Dan du Preez, Warren Whiteley, Damian Willemse and Jan Serfontein.
— Springboks (@Springboks) June 27, 2019
The basis of the 2018 team is still there. What we can glean from this list of players is that players who are in form in Northern Hemisphere competitions have been rewarded. Players such as Cobus Reinach, Frans Steyn, Cheslin Kolbe, Rynardt Elstadt and Marcel Coetzee have been called up.
A calculated gamble?
Every Rugby World Cup squad needs three scrumhalves. Faf de Klerk is the incumbent 9. Cobus Reinach is in the form of his life and deservedly earns a call up ahead of the likes of Embrose Paper. Herschel Jantjies is pretty much unheralded, with only 8 Super Rugby appearances to his name. What he has displayed in those 8 games has been pretty impressive and he has displaced the previously mentioned Papier. Is Erasmus gambling on a special X-factor or has he seen something that he can develop for Rugby World Cup 2023?
Will the Springboks be a little more adventurous?
This group was assembled as an alignment group for the Rugby Championship, so there might be a slightly different squad going to Rugby World Cup 2019, but major personnel changes are very unlikely. We just need to take a look at a few positions to determine where the Springboks are headed.
The three scrumhalves selected are known for their speed and attacking abilities. They can all kick from the base and shift the ball to their halfback partners, but they also add an attacking threat.
The wings invited to the alignment camp are all know as finishers. None of them give the impression that they are selected solely for their defensive abilities or as kick chasers. Of course all of them can do this, but finishing is their strength.
What about Frans Steyn?
Steyn’s inclusion has been on many fans’ wish list. The question here is what role will he actually play? Will he be a super-sub cover for flyhalf, inside center and fullback or a mentor for the younger players? The final alternative is fulfilling the role as the starting inside center. Many pundits like the option of a 10/12 combination that is interchangeable. Here, Steyn has a distinct advantage over incumbent Damian de Allende, both kicking out of hand and off the tee.
How the Springbok Rugby World Cup 2019 squad develops is going to be intriguing to watch.
Squad details as supplied by SA Rugby.
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