South Africa’s World Cup squad confirmed

South Africa’s head coach Heyneke Meyer has announced his Springbok squad to
contest the Rugby World Cup with Jean de Villiers as captain.

Meyer has named a squad rich in experience and includes three Test centurions
in Victor Matfield, Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers.

While De Villiers will captain the Springboks in England, Matfield is vice-captain,
with Schalk Burger providing captaincy back-up.

Matfield and Burger will be playing in their fourth Rugby World Cup, while
De Villiers, Habana, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez, Bismarck and
Jannie du Plessis will play in their third.

Six players who featured in 2011, are back for their second tournament.

Sixteen members of the 31-man squad, 12 of whom made their Test debut under
Heyneke Meyer since 2012, will have their first taste of Rugby World Cup action.

One uncapped player was included in Rudy Paige, who was first selected to tour
with the Springboks last November.

The average age of the selected players is a little over 26 and the combined
number of caps in the squad is 1,297.

Springbok coach Meyer said it was very tough to select the final squad from
the wider training group that had been together for the last two months.

“Every single player in our wider group worked incredibly hard and to
cut the squad to 31 was probably the most difficult selection I’ve faced
in my coaching career,” said Meyer.

“In the end, the selectors decided the 31 players named were the best
we have at the moment but that is not to say any of the others won’t have
a role to play, with injuries a reality in our game.

“Because of the size of the squad, we also had to give more consideration
to utility players, who can move around between positions, such as Schalk Brits
and Pieter-Steph du Toit, both of whom can play in the back row, as well as
Coenie Oosthuizen, who can pack down on both sides of the front row.

“A number of our backs, such as JP, Ruan, Pat Lambie, Handre Pollard,
Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Lwazi Mvovo and Zane Kirchner, are all comfortable
to play in more than one position.

“I think the squad has a great balance between youth and experience while
keeping together the core of the team that did the country proud in the last
few years. We also have a number of players who know what it takes to win a
World Cup and their knowledge will be very valuable.

“We’re going to England with the hopes of a nation on our shoulders
and we would really like to make our country proud, but we’re under no
illusions about how tough it will be.

“The gap between all the nations playing in the tournament has shrunk
over the years and this will probably be the closest World Cup yet. But the
players have really worked very hard over the last two months and by time we
get to Eastbourne for our first match, we’ll hopefully be firing on all
cylinders.”

Meyer said that although a number of players currently recovering from injuries
were selected, every player in the squad is expected to be fit for the Springboks’
opening match of the Rugby World Cup, on 19 September against Japan.

De Villiers (fractured jaw), Duane Vermeulen (neck), Jannie du Plessis (knee),
Fourie du Preez (knee), Willie le Roux (ankle), Francois Louw (shoulder) and
Coenie Oosthuizen (neck) are all recovering from various injuries but are close
to full match fitness.

“The best medical scenarios were taken into consideration with the selection
process. Our medical team have worked incredibly hard with these players and
we’re confident they will be ready to be considered to play Japan,”
said Meyer.

“Although they have not been able to train fully with the rest of the
squad at times, they have really worked hard on their fitness a

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