rugby365.com columnist Grant Ball picks his World Cup squad and gives reasons for his selections.
With the Bok squad being announced on Tuesday (19.30 SA time), fans will get an idea of what Peter de Villiers's thinking is.
As expected at this time, selection rumours keep sparking up, the latest of those being that Francois Louw is suddenly in favour again after a year out of the loop, and that he'll return from Bath to head to New Zealand with the squad.
This is my squad, not what De Villiers will pick, and based on the premise that they'll pick 16 forwards and 14 backs.
The two loosehead props will be Beast Mtawarira and Gurthrö Steenkamp, with John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis and Chiliboy Ralepelle the hookers. Jannie du Plessis is the first choice tighthead, but with the Smit experiment at No 3 failing again versus Australia, CJ van der Linde should be the reserve tighthead. Van der Linde hasn't been on great form, but he does provide utility value that will be crucial on the bench.
Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha will be the first choice locks, and Danie Rossouw should be the lock cover in the 22. Alistair Hargreaves hasn't done enough to warrant a spot as Andries Bekker's replacement, and I'd go for Juandre Kruger as a wildcard. Flip van der Merwe and Gerhard Mostert don't fit the mould for No.5 locks.
Juan Smith's withdrawal is a big blow, but it should've been worked out who his replacement is because De Villiers knew how serious Smith's injury was when it first happened - Smith was never going to make the World Cup. Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brüssow and Pierre Spies will go, as will Willem Alberts. Jean Deysel and Ashley Johnson are too one-dimensional and shouldn't go, and hopefully the Louw rumours are true. He ticks so many boxes: the breakdown, line-out, as a runner and defensively he offers value, which means he's a better bet than other options.
The three scrumhalves will be Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard and Ruan Pienaar - the latter pair also offering utility value. Morné Steyn forced his way into the squad after the Bok coaching staff weren't impressed with his form this year and weren't going to take him to New Zealand. Butch James is now set to be the back-up 10, although he is still a better starting option than Steyn.
Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie and Juan de Jongh will be the three first-choice centres. Don't be surprised if Adi Jacobs somehow forces his way into the squad - he's a De Villiers favourite - but he shouldn't be anywhere near the top 30. I'd select Pat Lambie - injury-permitting - as the fourth centre, while Frans Steyn can also do a job there. Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen and Gio Aplon will be the wings, while Hougaard can also cover from the bench. Lwazi Mvovo will be the fourth wing. Frans Steyn and Lambie will be the fullbacks.
This squad covers all the bases, including quota requirements. Not that it should be a prerequisite when selecting a national side, but it is, this squad includes eight players of colour, including two 'ethnic blacks' - which is an important aspect from the government's perspective.
Grant Ball's Bok squad:
Forwards: Beast Mtawarira, Gurthrö Steenkamp, John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jannie du Plessis, CJ van der Linde, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw, Juandre Kruger, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brüssow, Pierre Spies, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw.
Backs: Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Pienaar, Butch James, Morné Steyn, Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Frans Steyn.
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