Boks opt for tried and tested
August 23, 2011
Bath-bound flanker Francois Louw is a surprise inclusion having recovered from injury © Getty Images
Bath-bound flanker Francois Louw was a surprise inclusion as South Africa named their 30-man squad for the Rugby World Cup on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old, who made his last appearance for the Springboks last year, was named in a preliminary 49-strong squad two months ago but was injured, committed his future to the Aviva Premiership and appeared to have fallen out of favour. But having returned to fitness he has earned a recall as cover for fellow loose forward Heinrich Brussow who has only just returned from a long injury lay-off.
Louw is one of three players named who did not feature in this year's Tri-Nations due to injury with flanker Schalk Burger and lock Johann Muller also looking forward to a return to action at the World Cup. Another notable inclusion was winger Odwa Ndungane who reportedly edged out his Sharks team-mate Lwazi Mvovo for a place on the plane.
Springboks coach Peter de Villiers has opted for established names with no uncapped players included while captain John Smit is one 18 players who were also part of their 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning squad. Fellow World Cup winners Juan Smith and BJ Botha were ruled out of selection by injury along with preliminary squad members Andries Bekker and Duane Vermeulen. Locks Flip van der Merwe and Gerhard Mostert also miss out despite seeing recent action as do loose forwards Ashley Johnson and Jean Deysel.
"The squad has a backbone of proven title-winning ability and experience as well as a strong component of new stars," said De Villiers. "Injury has denied us one or two players who could have been very important to us, but I am very happy with the squad we have picked. We have good coverage for every position and front line players who have shown over the past half dozen seasons that they know how to win big games."
The squad is made up of nine players who appeared in Super Rugby for the Bulls this season; eight from the Sharks and seven from the Stormers - although a number of players are now moving on to overseas clubs. The squad includes four overseas-based players in the Ulster duo of Ruan Pienaar and Johann Muller and Racing Metro's Frans Steyn. Louw has already moved to Bath in England, from the Stormers, but has yet to play a competition fixture for them.
The squad has a split of 16 forwards and 14 backs and boasts an average of 40 caps per player with ten of them having made more than a half century of Test appearances, while Pienaar is one short of a half century.
"This squad has the experience and ability to make a strong challenge for the title, but we know it will be very difficult," said De Villiers. "It has been a tough season to date and we have had some challenges with the amount of rugby the players have had to play, but I'm very happy with the squad. We are on target with the off-field plans we set in place before the season started."
The Springboks kick off their World Cup campaign against Wales in Wellington on September 11.
Forwards: (16) Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Heinrich Brüssow, Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield (vc), Tendai Mtawarira, Johann Muller, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Danie Rossouw, John Smit (c), Pierre Spies, Gurthrö Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde
Backs: (14) Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Butch James, Pat Lambie, Odwa Ndungane, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Morné Steyn
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September