The Springboks have been doing all the right things so far in 2019, but in the build up to their World Cup squad naming today, two players had everyone questioning if their selection would be possible.
One that is hard to argue with, is the positive test for a banned substance from outside back Aphiwe Dyantyi and ultimately, his omission from the side and his chance to shine on the world stage for now.
Key second row enforcer Eben Etzebeth has also come under the spotlight after allegations of an assault started circulating from the weekend. Etzebeth has still been named in the squad despite the allegations and denies any involvement.
Rassie Erasmus has sprung no surprises, opting for a 17/14 split between forwards and backs with seven of those selected from their overseas clubs. The squad features an exciting mix of youth and experience. The vastly experienced Tendai Mtawarira leads the way with 110 caps to his name and joins Frans Steyn and Francois Louw who are going to their third Rugby World Cup.
The side will be captained by Siya Kolisi, who has only just returned from injury and leads a settled squad, of which he is the only one to have not seen game time for the Springboks in their victorious Rugby Championship campaign.
New try scoring sensation Herschel Jantjies demands selection as one of the three scrum halves in the squad alongside Faf de Klerk and Cobus Reinach. While also keeping the ability to carry three hookers to Japan, with the 38 year-old Schalk Brits joining Malcolm Marx and Bongi Mbonambi. Kwagga Smith wins the fight against Rynhardt Elstadt for the final backrow spot.
The Springboks open their Rugby World Cup campaign against the All Blacks on September the 21st, before taking on Namibia on the 28th, Italy on the 4th of October and finally Canada on the 8th to complete their group stage.
How do you think the Springboks will go at the Rugby World Cup next month?! Leave your thoughts below.
The full squad is as follows:
Springboks’ 31-man Rugby World Cup squad:
Forwards: Schalk Brits (Bulls), Lood de Jager (Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Siya Kolisi (captain, Stormers), Francois Louw (Bath), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Lions), RG Snyman (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
Backs: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Warrick Gelant (Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), S’bu Nkosi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Handre Pollard (Bulls), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints), Frans Steyn (Montpellier)