Bok squad packed with World Cup winners

South Africa included 12 of the starting line-up that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup in a preliminary squad named on Monday for the defence of the title in New Zealand this year.

The missing Springbok trio are fullback Percy Montgomery and loosehead prop Os du Randt, who have retired after long, distinguished careers, and tighthead prop CJ van der Linde, who was overlooked by coach Peter de Villiers.

Backs JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Francois Steyn, Bryan Habana, Butch James and Fourie du Preez, and forwards John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Schalk Burger, Danie Rossouw and Juan Smith are the final survivors.

South Africa defeated England 15-6 in a decider settled by penalty kicks with Montgomery (four) and Steyn successful for the Springboks and Jonny Wilkinson (two) for England at Stade de France.

It was the second World Cup title for South Africa, who pipped New Zealand 15-12 after extra time in a 1995 final famous for the appearance of President Nelson Mandela in a replica jersey of that worn by captain Francois Pienaar.

South Africa and fellow southern hemisphere giants Australia and New Zealand are favourites for the quadrennial tournament that will be staged between September 9 and October 23 in New Zealand.

Speculation
Bulls wing Bjorn Basson, a shock omission from the second of two recent training camps as he is joint leading try scorer with nine this season in the Super 15 championship, was among 21 backs called up.

There has been no official explanation for his absence from a Durban camp amid media speculation that it could have been a disciplinary reaction to him oversleeping and missing a photo shoot during a Cape Town camp.

Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius and Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant impressed during the southern hemisphere championship and must have hoped to at least make the preliminary cut. Livewire Pretorius shares top spot on the try-scorer charts with Basson, while Grant marked his return from an ankle injury with 24 points for Super 15 semifinalists Stormers in a league win against the Cheetahs last weekend.

There was also no space for Zimbabwe-born former Stormers tighthead Brian Mujati despite consistently good displays for English Premiership club Northampton.

Steyn from Paris club Racing Metro is one of four “exiles” included, with Ruan Pienaar, who can fill either halfback role, tighthead BJ Botha and lock Johann Muller from Irish province Ulster completing that list.

Squad
Backs: Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Ricky Januarie, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (all Stormers), Bjorn Basson, Francois Hougaard, Zane Kirchner, Wynand Olivier, Fourie du Preez, Morne Steyn (all Bulls), Adrian Jacobs, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen (all Sharks), Butch James, Elton Jantjies (both Lions), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Francois Steyn (Racing Metro)

Forwards: Willem Alberts, Alistair Hargreaves, Ryan Kankowski, Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, John Smit (captain) (all Sharks), Andries Bekker, Schalk Burger, Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen (all Stormers), Bakkies Botha, Dean Greyling, Werner Kruger, Victor Matfield (vice-captain), Flip van der Merwe, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Danie Rossouw, Pierre Spies, Gurthro Steenkamp, Deon Stegmann (all Bulls), BJ Botha, Johann Muller (both Ulster), Heinrich Brussow, Ashley Johnson, Coenie Oosthuizen, Juan Smith, Adriaan Strauss (all Cheetahs)—AFP

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