Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said he was "not worried" and "very excited" about his team's World Cup prospects, despite some major headaches.
De Villiers, upon his return to South Africa from Tri-Nations hammerings at the hands of the Wallabies (20-39) and All Blacks (7-40), revealed that prop, lock and centre are his biggest headaches.
And for the Morné Steyn fan club there was good news. The Bulls' match-winning flyhalf has not played himself out of World Cup contention.
Many pundits felt Steyn, who is in a serious slump of form this year, may have wasted his last chance when he had another poor game against New Zealand at the weekend - after being moved to fullback and Patrick Lambie slotting in at flyhalf.
For many this was a sign that Steyn's World Cup prospects are fading fast.
But De Villiers said flyhalf is the least of his concerns.
"Flyhalf is not one of our biggest headaches," he told this website, adding: "We have three other headaches ... prop, lock and centre.
"The other guys [positions] I am quite settled on.
"I am concerned about the frontline players and depth, a combination of a few things [in those three positions].
"Our versatile players can cover better in the other positions than those three [positions]."
Asked if any frontline players - such as Steyn - had played themselves out of contention on the Australasian leg of the Tri-Nations, the Bok coach's answer was brief and to the point.
"No, not at all."
However, he did reveal that few of the rookies on tour had impressed him.
"Yes, a number of the guys impressed me," De Villiers said, adding: "Gerhard Mostert was one of the revelations on tour ... in the one game he played.
"[Patrick] Lambie didn't do too bad.
"Gio Aplon definitely was a thorn in the flesh of the Wallabies. It was just sad that we lost him.
"And then John [Smit] again in the second game - he showed his real worth>"
The Bok coach said he will be looking to field his "strongest available" side for the two home matches in the Tri-Nations series.
However, all the players will undergo medical assessments on Monday - for all the players that were on tour and those who stayed behind in South Africa - before making a call on who to name in the squad.
"We hope that some of them have recovered," De Villiers said, adding: "We are aware that there are a few who are very serious and won't make it.
"If we can get 70 percent of the guys back and start preparing for the World Cup it will be great."
The Bok coach also listed this players who are definitely out of World Cup contention, though injury, and those that remain doubtful.
Top of the list is lock, one of the trouble spots in the team, where Andries Bekker has been ruled out.
"We are holding thumbs for [loose forwards] Juan Smith and Willem Alberts. Johann Muller is also doubtful.
"However, Gio Aplon, the doctor assessed him in Cape Town on Sunday morning and he is looking good to play again.
"Gurthro Steenkamp is another guy that we were worried about, but he will be ready to go.
"If they are fit they will definitely play ... why would you hold back your big guns when you go to war?
"We also need to build some confidence and those guys can help us with that."
By Jan de Koning
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