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Rugby World Cup: South Africa team profile

Defending champions South Africa have been going slightly under the radar heading into the 2023 World Cup and that might just suit the three-time champions ahead of the upcoming tournament in France.

Confirmed Squad

Forwards

Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Ox Nche (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Stade Francais), Malcolm Marx (Kubota), Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks), Eben Etzebeth (Sharks), RG Snyman (Munster), Marvin Orie (Stormers), Franco Mostert (Mie), Siya Kolisi (c) (Sharks), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota), Duane Vermeulen (Ulster), Jasper Wiese (Leicester), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka), Deon Fourie (Stormers), Jean Kleyn (Munster), Marco van Staden (Bulls).
 

Backs

Faf de Klerk (Yakohama), Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Grant Williams (Sharks), Manie Libbok (Stormers), Damian de Allende (Saitama), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Jesse Kriel (Yakohama), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota), Damian Willemse (Stormers), Canan Moodie (Bulls).
 

Manager

After taking charge of the Springboks in January 2020, Jacques Nienaber will be the man to lead his country into the World Cup. 

His appointment to the role came as a relative shock, with Nienaber having no previous experience as a head coach. 

Nienaber's biggest success to date with the national side was a 2-1 series win over the British & Irish Lions in 2021, and now the 50-year-old will have glory at the World Cup firmly in his sights, especially with him set to depart for Leinster after the tournament.

Possible First XV

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. Jasper Wiese 
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit 
6. Siya Kolisi 
5. Lood de Jager 
4. Eben Etzebeth 
3. Frans Malherbe 
2. Bongi Mbonambi 
1. Steven Kitshoff

Strengths

Physicality, physicality and a little more physicality thrown in for good measure. The Springboks' game has always been about dominating the opposition at the collision and this powerful squad will be no different. 

Expect the Boks to kick for territory as they did in the Lions series and play in the right areas of the park. 

That's not to say they are without individual stars that can light up a game, but a power-based style is where South Africa's strength lies.

Weaknesses

With their territory-based game, if Plan A does not go according to plan, it can be tricky for South Africa to switch it up. 

If opposition sides can avoid an arm wrestle and move their heavy pack around the field, there can be some joy found against the Boks. However, stopping Plan A from working is easier said than done.

Key Players

Siya Kolisi

The inspirational skipper who guided South Africa to the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan, Siya Kolisi is one of the great icons of modern rugby union. 

Kolisi has been hampered by injury in the build-up to the tournament, but the Boks' talisman is expected to be fit in time for their opening game of the competition against Scotland. 

Faf de Klerk 

Among the best scrum-halves in the business, Faf de Klerk is one of those nuisance number nines supporters love to have on their team but hate facing.

With all the tricks in the book up his sleeve, expect De Klerk to have another big World Cup for his country. 

Eben Etzebeth 

The man mountain in the second-row for the Springboks, it's hard to miss lock Eben Etzebeth on the field. 

Another massive carrier and tackler, who is key at the lineout, Etzebeth continues to be one of the most impressive forwards in the game.

Ones to watch 

Lukhanyo Am

Centre Lukhanyo Am is certainly a player to watch out for in this upcoming tournament. The Sharks star can pick wonderful running lines from deep and has the ability to start attacks from seemingly very little with his offloads. 

Cheslin Kolbe

Winger Cheslin Kolbe is another player worth keeping an eye on, if you can. This elusive runner was one of the stars of the last World Cup and will be eager to add to his try tally in France. 

Odds 

  • To Win Outright - 9/2
  • To Reach the Final - 13/8
  • To Win Pool - 1/1
     

View all Rugby World Cup Outright odds

All odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.

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