The depth of the current Springbok team gives the 2023 group a boost over the Webb Ellis winners of 2019, Jacques Nienaber believes.
“When we started the rugby journey in 2018, we knew that our time was limited to prepare for the 2019 World Cup. But we have now had four years to prepare for the upcoming tournament and we have largely focused on the depth of the team,” said the Springbok coach.
The Goats leave today for their World Cup base in Toulon after a good training camp in Corsica.
“I am very satisfied with the players’ performance. The conditions in Corsica can be compared to Durban and it was good to see how the players are getting used to things. I’m very excited now – we’ve worked for four years for this and it’s time for the World Cup to start.”
The Springboks are currently the second best team on the official World Cup standings after they settled decently with the All Blacks at Twickenham.
Suddenly they are one of the favorite teams to hold up the silverware, yet Nienaber expects a very tough battle.
“There are quite a few teams that are good enough to walk away with the ultimate laurels and if we are not at our best even for a short while, things can quickly go wrong.”
The Boks play their opening match of the tournament against Scotland in Marseille and a fighting Duhan van der Merwe has already said that the bagpipe players are good enough to deal with any team.
“Scotland is a fit team that can play for more than 80 minutes. Under Pieter de Villiers’ capable supervision, scrum work is also one of their strong points, which then again allows them to play with a lot of rhythm.”
Springboks’ group matches:
10 September: South Africa v Scotland
17 September: South Africa v Romania
23 September: South Africa v Ireland
1 October: South Africa vs Tonga
Springbok squad for the 2023 World Cup:
Props: Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane.
Hookers: Malcolm Marx and Bongi Mbonambi.
Locks: Eben Etzebeth, Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie and RG Snyman.
Loose forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen and Jasper Wiese.
Versatile forwards: Deon Fourie and Franco Mostert.
Scrum-halfs: Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Cobus Reinach and Grant Williams.
Loose links: Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse.
Centres: Damian de Allende, André Esterhuizen and Jesse Kriel.
Wings/full back: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi and Canan Moodie.