In the final part of this series, CRAIG LEWIS looks back at the Springboks’ match-day squad from the World Cup final and provides an update on each member of the bench.
Although South Africa’s famous World Cup triumph may still feel fresh in the memory, more than 15 months have passed since that day in Yokohama.
Now, with the Springboks continuing their preparation for the British & Irish Lions series, it’s interesting to unpack how the World Cup-winning players have negotiated an unprecedented period since leaving Japan.
Here, we take a look at those who formed part of the ‘bomb squad’.
16 Malcolm Marx
One of the unheralded heroes from the World Cup final is another player who has barely played any rugby since. The immense disruption to the Japanese Top League means Marx has had to endure a long waiting game.
When unpacking the Boks’ options at hooker, it’s essential that Marx is able to regain some form and fitness in the coming months.
17 Steven Kitshoff
One of the Stormers and Western Province stars from this past domestic season, Kitshoff is sure to take over the baton at looshead prop from Beast Mtawarira.
At 28 years old, ‘Spicy Plum’ looks to be reaching the peak of his powers, and looks set to be an integral member of the Bok pack during the Lions tour.
18 Vincent Koch
Disruptions to the English Premiership have also impacted his game time, but Koch remains one of the most dynamic props in the world game.
In Frans Malherbe, Trevor Nyakane, Thomas du Toit and Koch, the Boks are blessed with immense depth at tighthead prop, which hardened coaches will tell you is the most important position in the game.
19 RG Snyman
The popular second rower suffered a freak knee injury on debut for Munster, but would be expected to recover in time for the Lions series, albeit with hardly any game time under the belt.
20 Franco Mostert
The former Lions star had a key role to play in the World Cup final, but his move from Gloucester to Japan last year has left him in limbo for some time, as has been the case for many eagerly awaiting the Top League’s recent kick off.
He is another player on the long list of those who have endured a frustrating period without regular game time.
21 Francois Louw
The legendary loose forward headed into retirement after the World Cup, and his experience and versatility will be missed.
Marco van Staden and Marcell Coetzee are probably next in line to fulfil a similar sort of role.
22 Herschel Jantjies
One of the Boks’ breakthrough stars in 2019, Jantjies battled to find the same sort of consistency and form during the past domestic season for WP and the Stormers.
At this point, it’s not abundantly obvious who would be viewed as the Springboks’ back-up scrumhalf to Faf de Klerk, with Cobus Reinach, Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier all in the mix.
23 Frans Steyn
The veteran was one of the standout players for the Cheetahs, and his superb goal-kicking undoubtedly makes him a sure bet for selection when the Lions series rolls around.
Then of course there remains the versatility factor that could allow the Boks to continue employing the six-two forwards-to-backs bench split that was so key to World Cup glory.
Reminder of the Bok squad for RWC final – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.