Two surprises in Bok World Cup squad

Springbok coach Peter De Villiers sprang two surprises in the announcement of his squad to travel to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand with the inclusion of flank Francois Louw and winger Odwa Ndungane.

Ndungane’s inclusion was at the expense of Sharks winger Lwazi Mvovo while Louw was chosen instead of the possible spot for Cheetahs loose forward Ashley Johnson.

It has been quite some time since the relatively inexperienced pair, who share 15 Test caps between them, have reported for Springbok duty.

Louw earned his last test cap in August 2010 and Ndungane played in the side that lost against New Zealand in Wellington in July after an absence of over a year.

Another decision that raised eyebrows was Ulster lock Johann Muller earning a spot ahead of Gerhard Mostert also after a lengthy hiatus from the team, last donning the green and gold against the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

Muller does however provide a great deal of experience with 23 appearances for the Springboks and the honour of having led the team on one occasion—in the 2007 Tri-Nations.

Despite respective shoulder and hamstring injuries, Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn were included, easing any potential concerns the Springboks may have had at fullback. Injury did however rob the side of 2007 World Cup winner Juan Smith, with the flanker still struggling to recover from an Achilles tendon injury.

The majority of squad members hail from the Bulls (nine), Stormers (seven) and Sharks (eight).

Vastly experienced
Apart from these surprises the squad enjoys a cumulative 1224 internationals between them with an average of 40 caps per player.

Eighteen players from the previous World Cup squad have been included, along with 12 members of the starting line-up of the victorious 2007 World Cup final in Paris.

Captain John Smit along with his deputy Victor Matfield are two of five players out of the 30-man squad playing their third World Cup.

In spite of losing three of their four Tri-Nations matches this season, the Boks will go into the World Cup as one of the favourites based on this wealth of experience.

De Villiers echoed this sentiment but warned against complacency.

“This squad has the experience and ability to make a strong challenge for the title, but we know it will be very difficult. It has been a tough season to date due to the amount of rugby the guys have been playing, but I’m very happy with the squad,” he said.

Smit was also wary of talking up the team’s chances.

“It is going to take a different type of team to win it this time round, so I think we should steer clear of the similarities with the 2007 squad and concentrate on what lies ahead,” he said.

The squad departs for New Zealand on September 1 ahead of their first match against Wales 10 days later on September 11.

Springbok squad:
Forwards (16): Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira (Sharks), Gurthro Steenkamp (Bulls), John Smit (Sharks, capt), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), CJ van der Linde (Lions), Bakkies Botha (Bulls), Victor Matfield (Bulls, vice-capt), Johann Muller (Ulster/NIR), Danie Rossouw (Bulls), Willem Alberts (Sharks), Schalk Burger (Province), Heinrich Brüssow (Free State Cheetahs), Francois Louw (Bath/ENG), Pierre Spies (Bulls)

Backs (14): Francois Steyn (Racing Metro/FRA), Patrick Lambie (Sharks), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Gio Aplon (Western Province), Jaque Fourie (Province), Jean de Villiers (Province), Juan de Jongh (Province), Bryan Habana (Province), Odwa Ndungane (Sharks), Morne Steyn (Blue Bulls), Butch James (Golden Lions), Fourie du Preez (Bulls), Francois Hougaard (Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster/NIR)

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Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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