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Ken Borland


With the World Cup rapidly approaching, will there be fresh Bok blood?

Posted on July 05, 2022 by Ken

With the World Cup rapidly approaching, the selection of South Africa’s squad to face Wales in the incoming series in July will be under the spotlight and three former Springbok greats have called for the introduction of some fresh blood.

South Africa will defend the title they won in Japan in 2019 when the next World Cup kicks off in September 2023 and Joel Stransky, John Smit and Victor Matfield all believe the time is now for Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber to start building depth for that tournament.

“The Springboks should use the Welsh games to see who the next eighthman, flyhalf and outside centre will be. Other than that we have depth,” 2007 World Cup winning captain Smit said.

Stransky, the hero of South Africa’s 1995 World Cup triumph, said there should also be change at fullback.

“There must be an eye cast forward to the World Cup because Jacques will probably have to pick his squad in 12 months time,” Stransky said.

“Some guys are getting on a bit, if we pick a similar squad to 2019 then there’ll be half-a-dozen players 33 and over. It’s a chance to blood youngsters, even off the bench.

“He needs a fullback, Willie le Roux last year was already borderline and I don’t think Jacques should pick him. I would love to see Warrick Gelant play there, there’s Aphelele Fassi or maybe even Cheslin Kolbe.

“But now’s the time, there were guys who have shone in the URC and you can’t ignore them. But my concern is that some of them have not even been at the alignment camps,” Stransky said.

“Whoever is going to play at the World Cup, whatever their age, they must play now,” Matfield, man of the match in the 2007 final, added. “It was not a great year for the Boks in 2021 and they need to build a team and their confidence.

“There are one or two players who everyone says should be in the side, but they haven’t been at the alignment camps. Warrick Gelant and Evan Roos are unbelievable game-breakers.

“If you have one or two youngsters between the experienced players, then it will feel like they’re playing provincial rugby. But we’re not saying pick five or six new guys,” Matfield said.

The legendary lock said he hoped a couple of x-factor players as well as Bulls second-rower Ruan Nortje would be added to the Springbok party.

“I don’t believe in testing players at Test level, but you need one or two players with x-factor that can bring the magic, otherwise you struggle to break teams down, especially with defences being so tight.

“Ruan Nortje is a fantastic player, but it’s unfortunate for him that we have four unbelievable second rowers: Eben Etzebeth is the best in the world, Lood de Jager is arguably second; there’s RG Snyman if he’s ready and Franco Mostert always adds value,” Matfield said.

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