Cape Town - Around
84 percent … that’s how many of Rassie Erasmus's anticipated Springbok squad
for RWC 2019, to be revealed later on Monday, might feasibly still be in
contention for selection four years onward in France.
expected group of 31 heading for Japan soon carries the South African flag with
notable honour at this year’s event, it should simultaneously only serve as a
pointer to their potential as an even more streetwise bunch by the time RWC
2023 comes along.
For truth be
told, there will be relatively few genuine Bok “oldies” attending the 2019
like one of the most predictable - for all the right reasons - Springbok RWC
parties in recent history (announcement live on SuperSport, 15:00) should be
educative for the likelihood that only five of the 31 can pretty safely be
called non-starters for 2023 due to age-related circumstances.
will always be the very occasional “Victor Matfield” around the rugby planet
(or read, someone playing competently at the highest level to around age 38),
it is considerably more common for players reaching 33 or 34 to be seriously
contemplating quitting the Test arena.
employ that template, perhaps as few as five anticipated 31 Bok picks for the
Japan jamboree (so a mere 16 percent or thereabouts) will be goners in terms of
the 2023 World Cup ... the one so infuriatingly snatched from beneath South
Africa’s noses after the country had been officially deemed “preferred
candidate” for a few hopeful days.
be Schalk Brits (the one extreme Bok veteran, already 38), Francois Louw and
Tendai Mtawarira (both 34), the 33-year-old Duane Vermeulen and Frans Steyn,
borderline, perhaps, would be the likes of Willie le Roux and Trevor Nyakane,
both 30 at this point although far from outlandish thoughts as “possibles” for
another World Cup: some say that props, for example, reach peak potential as
late as their early- to mid-thirties.
else (probably 24 of them) in the expected RWC 2019 squad will travel to the
Far East as under-30s, giving them every prospect of completing another
four-year cycle to the French-hosted event if they retain suitable levels of
hunger and fitness.
is naturally also more than enough time for plenty of new faces to burst into
the mix, helpfully restoring more of a youthful balance to the Boks again, it
is a gratifying thought that so many of the current personnel should still be
able to grace RWC 2023.
the expected “first XV” that Erasmus will field for the red-letter pool opener
against champions New Zealand at Yokohama on September 21, perhaps only No 8 Vermeulen
and Mtawarira (the latter if preferred to close-running Steven Kitshoff at
loosehead prop) will most obviously not be around for 2023.
core, pedigreed personnel like SA Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit,
in-form flyhalf Handre Pollard and senior lock Eben Etzebeth seem to have
already been around for a long time, Du Toit only turned 27 last week, Pollard
is still just 25 and Etzebeth would hardly be a has-been in France in four
years’ time as a 31-year-old.
bright young things like scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and powerful wing S’bu
Nkosi would each be 27 by then and roughly in the prime of their rugby lives, a
situation that would also apply to RG Snyman, Lukhanyo Am, Malcolm Marx,
Cheslin Kolbe and others.
already hugely more optimistic thoughts in South Africa, based on rising stocks
by the presently unbeaten 2019 national side, about the Boks’ chances of a
powerful crack at the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
have an even better prospect of glory in 2023?
It is a
reasonably pleasant thought …
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