The absence of 23 frontline players has done a lot more than just rob South Africa of the core of their most experienced players.
In fact it has removed most of the Springbok pack's muscle ahead of the demanding two-match Tri-Nations trip to Australasia.
Against the Wallabies in Sydney next Saturday, July 23, physicality in the forward pack won't be so vital, but it is a week later against the All Blacks in Wellington where the presence of forwards like Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield, Juan Smith, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Tendai Mtawarira, Bakkies Botha and Pierre Spies will be sorely missed.
Bok coach Peter de Villiers has made no secret of the fact that utility forward Danie Rossouw, the most experienced player in the touring squad besides of captain John Smit, will play a crucial rile in the success of the tour.
"He is one of those guys that you just need to take on this tour," De Villiers said of the 33-year-old Rossouw.
He also made it clear Rossouw, who is equally effective in the second row or back row, will be used as a loose forward.
"The main reason is that we don't have Juan [Smith]," De Villiers said in explanation of why Rossouw has become such a vital cog.
"He [Rossouw] is the one player in South Africa who is in the mold of Juan Smith, given the way we play and the game we are planning to play.
"If he is going to come good on this tour I will have fewer sleepless nights about Juan [Smith].
"There is only one Juan, but Danie Rossouw is the perfect back-up."
Smith is in a race against time to recover ahead of the World Cup, after undergoing surgery in February to repair a raptured Achilles tendon.
While the team lacks serious muscle, the enthusiasm of uncapped players like Ashley Johnson, Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger can go some way towards helping the Boks in their quest for a rare Australasian double.
DE Villiers admitted that the absence of 23 players have now created an opportunity for these newcomers to shine.
"Sometimes as coaches we, me included, make the mistake of leaning [too much] on the players you trust. You lean on the tried and trusted and suddenly when there is a big problem, somebody comes from nowhere and he makes a huge difference.
"I hope the little bit of experience they have from Super Rugby, more so the confidence of the self belief in their own abilities, can help us get where we want to be."
The other vital factor would be the performances of utility players like Patrick Lambie and Ashley Johnson.
"If you go on a tour like this you need players who can feature in different positions," De Villiers said, adding: "I see them as brilliant allround players."
* Meanwhile the Boks are anxiously awaiting the fitness tests of forwards Johann Muller and Heinrich Brüssow.
Lock Muller has an injured hamstring, whilst flanker Brüssow's recovery from a knee injury is being conservatively managed.
De Villiers described Brussow's injury as a ticking time bomb.
"I have to be sensible," the coach said, adding: "He is the one guy I would like not to play, it is touch and go with his injuries. We will have to phase him in, because he is very, very important for the World Cup."
By Jan de Koning
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