JON CARDINELLI looks at five overseas-based South Africans who may well force their way into the Springboks’ World Cup squad.
MARCEL COETZEE (ULSTER)
Coetzee earned the last of his 28 Test caps against Argentina in 2015. Many were surprised when the talented flanker – who had proved himself capable of starting at openside as well as blindside – was omitted from the Springbok World Cup squad. A bad run of injuries has limited his appearances for Ulster over the past two seasons. The good news is that the 27-year-old is fit once more, and a strong performance for the Irish club in the coming months may well earn him a Bok recall as Rassie Erasmus considers his loose-forward options.
BISMARCK DU PLESSIS (MONTPELLIER)
Du Plessis was part of the Bok side that won the World Cup in 2007, and has amassed 79 Test caps to date. While the world-class hooker hasn’t played for his country since the 2015 World Cup, he was considered for selection by Erasmus ahead of the series against England this June. If SA Rugby and Montpellier can reach an agreement regarding the player’s release, Du Plessis could well prove a valuable squad option.
COBUS REINACH (NORTHAMPTON)
Cobus Reinach is another player who was unlucky not to travel to the 2015 World Cup. The scrumhalf played 10 Tests for the Boks between 2014 and 2015. Now with English side Northampton, the 28-year-old is hoping to play his way back into Bok contention. Erasmus has mentioned that Reinach may come into the mix in future – the scrumhalf was in the running for a squad place on the 2018 end-of-year tour – and that his experience may be an asset to the Boks.
JAN SERFONTEIN (MONTPELLIER)
Serfontein impressed in his debut Test season for the Boks in 2013, and went on to accumulate 35 caps over the next three years. He may well have played a crucial role for the national side in 2018 if not for an ailment that forced him to spend an extended period on the sidelines. Now back in business for French side Montpellier, Serfontein is staking a late claim for a place in the World Cup squad. There’s a dearth of experienced No 12s in South Africa at present, and Serfontein could well fill the gap.
FRANS STEYN (MONTPELLIER)
Like Du Plessis, Steyn was initially included in the Bok squad ahead of the series against England in June. Over the course of the 2018 season, Erasmus spoke of his desire to bring players like Steyn back with the aim of lending the backline some experience. Steyn was at No 12 when the Boks won the 2007 World Cup and at No 15 when South Africa triumphed in the 2009 British & Irish Lions series and subsequent Tri-Nations tournament. His experience and versatility – not to mention his ability to kick long-range penalties and drop goals – would be an asset to any World Cup squad. Steyn played the last of his 56 Tests against France in June 2017.