Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has chosen the 31 players he’d like to see board the plane for the Rugby World Cup in England and Wales.
READ: Sport24's Herman Mostert picks his 31-man Bok squad
Mallett was speaking on SuperSport’s rugby show, The Selectors, which was aired on Wednesday night.
He went for an 18-13 split between forwards and backs.
Interesting selections up front sees Mallett include the Stormers’ Scarra Ntubeni as the third hooker in the squad, while he also finds no place for fetcher flank Heinrich Brussow.
“The World Cup will be held in the northern hemisphere, where scrum penalties can either win or cost you a game, so you have to take your best scrummaging hookers, which are Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss and Scarra Ntubeni. Obviously Schalk Brits has got an inside run, but I'd definitely take Scarra, who has been outstanding this season and he's a young guy who is going to be involved in 2019 as well,” said Mallett.
Either Siya Kolisi or Oupa Mohoje should go as the fifth loose forward, according to Mallett.
“Our starting back row should be Duane Vermeulen at No 8, Willem Alberts at blindside flanker and Francois Louw, who will travel to England ahead of Marcell Coetzee, at openside. Schalk Burger is the next guy I'd pick as he covers all three loose-forward positions off the bench. For the fifth vacant spot, I'm torn between Siya Kolisi, who is a fetching and ball-carrying option and Oupa Mohoje who is a better lineout jumper. It's a toss-up between those two. The style of rugby is also important. If you're going to play Lions rugby, Jaco Kriel suddenly becomes open for selection. But we need to play tighter, northern hemisphere, World Cup-winning rugby, and you need big collisions, defenders and lineout forwards to do that job.”
Among the backs, an interesting call by Mallett is the exclusion of Ruan Pienaar at the expense of the Lions’ Faf de Klerk.
“Fourie du Preez will be the starting scrumhalf, without a doubt. As his back-ups, I'd pick Cobus Reinach, with Faf de Klerk as my wildcard selection. Speed of service to the flyhalves in Europe will be important and Ruan Pienaar is just too slow.”
Mallett picks centre Jean de Villiers as his captain, but would select either Duane Vermeulen, Fourie du Preez or Francois Louw as captain if De Villiers fails to recover in time from a fractured jaw.
For those interested in transformation, Mallett has opted for nine players of colour.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer will name his Springbok squad at 18:00 on Friday.
Nick Mallett's Springbok Rugby World Cup squad:
Forwards: Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Steven Kitshoff, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Scarra Ntubeni, Victor Matfield, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi/Oupa Mohoje
Backs: Fourie du Preez, Cobus Reinach, Faf de Klerk, Handre Pollard, Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies, Jean de Villiers (captain), Damian de Allende, Jan Serfontein, Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen, Lwazi Mvovo, Willie le Roux