JON CARDINELLI looks at the players who narrowly missed the World Cup cut and may yet contribute to the Springboks' campaign in the event of injury.
15. Frans Steyn
Steyn won the World Cup with the Boks in 2007, and was one of their star players at the 2011 tournament before he was struck down with injury. His ability to play centre, wing and fullback is a plus, as is a skill set that includes a long-range tactical- and goal-kicking game. If an experienced back breaks down with a tournament-ending injury, Steyn should be the first man on the plane to England.
14. Cornal Hendricks
While Hendricks turned in some sharp attacking performances over the course of his debut season in 2014, he struggled on defence. Heyneke Meyer has opted for more physical and defensively sound players in his back-three group.
13. Jaque Fourie
Fourie has only played three Tests for the Boks over the past four years due to club commitments in Japan. He travelled back to the Far East earlier this year to continue with a conditioning programme. The official word from the Boks was that Fourie would be recalled 'if needed'. If the Boks suffer a midfield crisis at the World Cup, they could do worse than recall a decorated player who is still one of the best centres in the world.
12. Jan Serfontein
Serfontein will be cursing his run of injuries. Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel were given an opportunity in his absence this year, and Meyer has rewarded that form with World Cup squad selection.
11. Lionel Mapoe
Mapoe was one of the standouts for the Lions in the recent Vodacom Super Rugby tournament. While he can play wing, it's at No 13 where he would add value in the event of injury. Meyer has selected just one No 13 specialist in the World Cup group, namely Jean de Villiers. If there are injuries in this position, and Fourie is still unavailable, Mapoe becomes an option.
10 Elton Jantjies
The Lions finished eighth on the Super Rugby ladder this season, but won a lot of fans with their attitude and endeavour. Jantjies showed an improvement in terms of his temperament and game management. While Meyer has selected a good balance of No 10s in Handré Pollard, Pat Lambie and Morné Steyn, Jantjies's Super Rugby form suggests he would add value if brought into the squad at a later date.
9. Cobus Reinach
Rudy Paige was preferred to Reinach for the third scrumhalf berth, as Meyer felt the former was a better tactical kicker and potentially a better option in northern hemisphere conditions. Reinach will be determined to prove Meyer wrong if he eventually gets a chance at the global tournament.
8. Warren Whiteley
While the Lions captain enjoyed a great Super Rugby campaign, he was less physical and ultimately less impressive in the Rugby Championship. Meyer has opted for strong ball-carriers in his loose-forward group, with Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger and even Willem Alberts all able to cover at No 8.
7. Marcell Coetzee
Coetzee sustained a serious knee injury in the Rugby Championship. Meyer said recently that the injury contributed to Coetzee's omission from the World Cup squad. His ability to play blindside flank, and openside if the situation demands, would add value to the group.
6. Heinrich Brüssow
Brüssow produced some influential breakdown performances in the recent Rugby Championship. While he was omitted from the 31-man World Cup squad, Meyer admitted that the openside flanker was very close to selection. Francois Louw is the only openside specialist in the squad, and if he breaks down, Meyer may regret not taking Brüssow to England. If Louw or any other loosie is ruled out of the tournament completely, then Meyer will have an opportunity to bring Brüssow into the mix.
5. Flip van der Merwe
Van der Merwe managed the lineouts well over the course of the 2013 season, especially on the tour to Europe. He can also do a job at No 4, and would thus offer value as a utility lock.
4. Franco Mostert
With Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager in the squad, and with Van der Merwe as a possible contingency, the Boks are covered at No 4. It would take a second-row crisis for the uncapped Mostert to get an opportunity at this World Cup.
3. Vincent Koch
Koch was blown off the park in the Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Durban. Whether it was just a bad day at the office or a case of referee Romain Poite guessing at scrum time, Koch appears to have paid the price. He showed in the Super Rugby tournament that he is a fine scrummager and a strong ball-carrier.
2. Scarra Ntubeni
While Ntubeni had a strong Super Rugby campaign at the scrum and collisions, his lineout feeds left a lot to be desired. Meyer eventually opted to take three experienced hookers to the World Cup, with the England-based Schalk Brits edging Ntubeni for a place in the squad.
1. Steven Kitshoff
Kitshoff was one of the best scrummagers in this year's Super Rugby tournament, and rightly earned a call-up to the Boks. Unfortunately, an injury would rule him out of the Boks' five matches leading up to the World Cup. That, and the fact that Meyer decided to take five props instead of six to the World Cup, cost Kitshoff a place. However, it is likely that the forward-oriented game in the northern hemisphere will take its toll, and Meyer will be forced to call for front-row reinforcements. Kitshoff could yet make an appearance in England.
All of the above were in Heyneke Meyer's extended squad this season.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images