JOHANNESBURG – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has said 80% of his 31-man World Cup squad has been filled, so who will make up the other 20?
The Bulls fullback has been used sparingly by Erasmus this season, picking him to start against the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship opener nearly a full month ago now. He didn’t feature against the All Blacks or against Argentina last week – when a seemingly first-choice Bok team was on duty.
The big question is, is there place in the final World Cup squad for two specialist fullbacks, with Willie le Roux being number one? Advantageous for Gelant is that he is comfortable on the wing, too, but then if the very versatile Frans Steyn is picked, there won’t be place for the former Junior Bok star.
The Stormers man has played more of a back-up role this year and only featured on the bench in the Test against Australia when a largely Bok second-string side ran out. But with regular Aphiwe Dyantyi in doubt of going to Japan because of injury, could there be a place in the squad for a fourth wing?
Leyds’ speed and versatility could see him be a surprise inclusion if he has a blinder this weekend and any frontline man gets injured.
There are many observers out there who believe Coetzee is a must for the World Cup. He is a powerful flank, who is not only a specialist ball-poacher but a strong ball-carrier, too, and with several seasons under the belt has a wealth of experience. He is also comfortable in any back-row position, but it looks like he will need something special to happen to make the final cut.
He is really competing with the likes of Kwagga Smith and Francois Louw so it is going to be tough to force his way in. A stand-by spot looks more likely.
Thomas du Toit
He has been part of the squad throughout the preparations for the World Cup, but has yet to get any game time. Du Toit, who will play this weekend, has more recently played at tighthead, but is considered a “swing-prop” which means he can play on both sides of the front row.
Four props are already sure of their World Cup places – Trevor Nyakane, Tendai Mtawarira, Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff – so it looks like two of Du Toit, Vincent Koch and Lizo Gqoboka will make up the rest of the front-row contingent; that is if Erasmus decides to take six props to Japan.
The veteran utility back has been a mystery figure in the Bok set-up so far, playing only a handful of minutes, and all of them from the replacements bench. Not even this weekend, in a mainly meaningless game, has he cracked the starting team. Steyn is possibly viewed as the jack-of-all-trades replacement at the back, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but surely Erasmus would have wanted to see more of him than a few second-half minutes in his three games up to now.
Either Steyn is a World Cup certainty and he is getting his fitness up to the right level, or he is just not in the plans at all.