Springbok coach Peter de Villiers explained that reliability, experience and finding a balance in the squad were foremost concerns for him when he was selecting the 30 players to take to the World Cup.
Eyebrows were raised by the inclusion of veterans Odwa Ndungane and Johann Muller in the 30-man World Cup squad, with many believing that the pair are well past their sell-by date, but De Villiers pointed out that striking a balance between the strengths of the different players is crucial in tournament rugby.
The Bok coach admitted that the player most unlucky to miss out on selection to the final squad was Sharks flyer Lwazi Mvovo, who lost out to provincial teammate Ndungane as the latter has a more solid all-round game and his versatility would be more valuable off the bench - where he is likely to be utilised.
De Villiers revealed: "Lwazi (Mvovo) was one of those selections that you had to really think hard about because he is an extraordinary talent. We sat and thought about what we need at this World Cup and what role the players should play.
"If I needed a guy to start it would definitely have been Lwazi, but we do have a few guys who will be in the starting line-up and we are looking to those guys who have been around the block and who are holistically good in the position who can do well in defence as well as attack," he explained.
Muller was part of the squad that won the Webb Ellis Cup in France four years ago, but the lock has been in the Springbok wilderness since moving to Ireland to play for Ulster.
He probably benefited from the injury to Stormers lock Andries Bekker, who has been understudy to line-out master Victor Matfield for some time, and De Villiers explained that having experienced players to call on in pressure situations is going to be vital at the global showpiece.
"In this World Cup, with the defensive system in place around the world, it is going to be tough to score tries. You need guys who can look after the ball for longer and guys who were there previously," he said.
While having so many experienced players to call on may be reassuring for the Bok coach - only Os du Randt, Percy Montgomery and Juan Smith are missing from the team that started the Final in Paris four years ago - De Villiers admitted that keeping the veterans sharp is going to be his biggest task in New Zealand.
"Our biggest concern is to keep the guys fit, we all know that it is an experienced squad and they have all played a lot of rugby. The management of these players is the biggest challenge that I have," said the Bok mentor.
Although there were concerns about the fitness of utility backs Frans Steyn and Patrick Lambie who both picked up injuries playing at fullback in the home leg of the Tri-Nations, De Villiers confirmed that all the players in the squad would be available for selection in the first game against Wales in Wellington on September 11.
"All of those players will be fit to play in the first game against Wales, so I have the luxury of being able to select the best team from the squad," said De Villiers.
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