JON CARDINELLI looks at four possible scenarios that could play out at the World Cup squad announcement on Monday afternoon.
The World Cup squad will be confirmed at 15:00 today. One of the much-talked about trio of Rynhardt Elstadt, Warrick Gelant and Kwagga Smith looks set to miss the 31-man cut.
Of course, there’s still time for Rassie Erasmus to change his mind regarding a few positions. SARugbymag.co.za considers a few scenarios:
SCENARIO 1: ELSTADT AND GELANT IN, SMITH OUT
Erasmus has been a fan of Elstadt since the latter served as a flanker-cum-lock at the Stormers. Elstadt has taken his game to another level since joining Toulouse and helped the French club win the Top 14 earlier this year.
Elstadt’s inclusion would provide the group with another utility forward, and free up Pieter-Steph du Toit to focus on blindside flank.
SCENARIO 2: GELANT AND SMITH IN, ELSTADT OUT
Elstadt lacks Smith’s explosive qualities as well as the ability to link in broken play.
While Smith isn’t likely to start in the big World Cup games, he would give the Boks a different option if they wanted to alter their approach.
SCENARIO 3: ELSTADT AND SMITH IN, GELANT OUT
Perhaps Erasmus will favour an 18-13 split between forwards and backs.
With Gelant out, Erasmus would rely on Cheslin Kolbe, Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel to cover Willie le Roux at fullback.
Minor injury breakdowns – as well as a couple of serious setbacks – are to be expected at a seven-week World Cup tournament. Erasmus may benefit from including more forward options.
SCENARIO 4: WILLEMSE IN, GELANT AND ANOTHER OUT
If Damian Willemse and Aphiwe Dyantyi were both fully fit, they would in all likelihood be heading to Japan ahead of Gelant.
Dyantyi appeared to be on track for a comeback with the Golden Lions. On Saturday, however, it was confirmed that the winger has tested positive for a banned substance. Dyantyi subsequently stated that he will fight to prove his innocence in the coming weeks.
Willemse has played a couple of games for Western Province since returning from a serious knee injury. There is still some doubt regarding his readiness for Test rugby.
It seems unlikely, but perhaps Erasmus will reconsider his decision about Willemse and include a player who can cover flyhalf and fullback in the squad.
That would involve dropping Gelant as well as one of the aforementioned loose forwards, though.