Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has met his transformation demands by naming nine players of colour in his Rugby World Cup squad.
The racial composition the Springbok squad was a hot topic of discussion in the build-up to the squad announcement on Friday.
Meyer was under pressure to meet transformation requirements and according to SARU’s strategic transformation plan, the target for this year’s World Cup was 30% players of colour.
Meyer named Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Siya Kolisi, Zane Kirchner, JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Damian de Allende and Rudy Paige as players of colour in his squad for the showpiece event in England and Wales.
The most surprising of those selections was the inclusion of Bulls scrumhalf Paige, who will go to the World Cup with no Test caps behind his name.
He is included at the expense of Sharks No 9 Cobus Reinach.
Reinach made his Bok debut in last year’s Rugby Championship and boasts 10 Test caps. He has been on the Springbok bench throughout this year’s international season, with his last Test being the 26-12 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires two weeks ago.
While Paige showed excellent form for the Bulls in Super Rugby, the selection is tough on Reinach.
As former Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha noted in the SuperSport studio afterwards, Paige should at least have been given game time earlier in the international season.
The Boks start their World Cup campaign against Japan in Brighton on September 19.
Their second pool game is on September 26 against Samoa in Birmingham, before Tests against Scotland in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on October 3, and the USA in London on October 7.
Forwards: Willem Alberts, Schalk Brits, Schalk Burger, Lood de Jager, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Victor Matfield (vice-captain), Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss, Duane Vermeulen
Backs: Jean de Villiers (captain), Damian de Allende, Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Jesse Kriel, Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Lwazi Mvovo, Rudy Paige, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Handre Pollard, Morne Steyn