South Africa


15 Zane Kirchner Age: 28 Caps: 21 Club: Blue Bulls Height: 6ft Weight: 92kg/14st 5lbsA well-rounded, slick running fullback who cannot be deemed world class even if he is the undisputed guardian of the Springboks’ number 15 jersey.

7 Willem Alberts

Age: 28 Caps: 17 Club: Sharks Height: 6ft 3in Weight: 119kg/18st 7lbs

Makes you realise just how good Pierre Spies, Juan Smith and Schalk Burger once were. A huge specimen in the traditional Springbok mould, his presence in the maul and carrying is substantial.

9 Ruan Pienaar

Age: 28 Caps: 60 Club: Ulster Height: 6ft 1in Weight: 92kg/14st 5lbs

A hero in Belfast, the double burden of being Gysie Pienaar’s son and a wonderfully versatile ability to play right across the backline has stunted his growth at home. A fabulously composed scrumhalf.

1 Tendai Mtawarira

Age: 27 Caps: 41 Club: Sharks Height: 6ft 2in Weight: 118kg/18st 6lbs

If anyone can shred Mike Ross – remember Phil Vickery? – it’s the Beast. So important to the Springbok cause at scrums, lineouts and especially restarts due to his immense strength.

10 Pat Lambie

Age: 22 Caps: 17 Club: Sharks. Height: 5ft10in Weight: 87kg/13st 7lbs

Lots of pressure on the young man’s shoulders but he looks well able. Morne Steyn’s collapse in form provides the opportunity, while he outshone Ruan Pienaar in training to get the place-kicking duties.

5 Juandré Kruger

Age: 27 Caps: 5 Club: Blue Bulls Height: 6ft 6in Weight: 112kg/17st 6lbs

South Africa are scrambling to find someone to replace the greatest lock to ever run a lineout. Victor Matfield he is not but the former Northampton Saint is competent.

6 Francois Louw

Age: 27 Caps: 14 Club: Bath Height: 6ft 3in Weight: 114kg/18st

An amazing specimen in that he has the agility of an openside in the frame of a prop. Once he gets over the opposition’s ball you can forget about getting it back.

8 Duane Vermeulen

Age: 26 Caps: 0 Club: Stormers Height: 6ft 4in Weight: 108kg/17st

Stopgap while Spies is injured. The South African media guide compares him to the great André Venter. While impressive at Super Rugby level it is not known whether he can take the next leap.

4 Eben Etzebeth

Age: 21 Caps: 8 Club: Stormers. Height: 6ft 8in Weight: 117kg/18st 4lbs

The young enforcer knows this is the first time many in the Northern Hemisphere will have laid eyes on him. He will be keen to make an impression by stopping Ireland’s main ball carriers.

13 Jaco Taute

Age: 21 Caps: 2 Club: Golden Lions Height: 6ft 2in Weight: 91kg/14st 3lbs

Chosen due to Jaque Fourie’s Japanese sabbatical and injury to Frans Steyn, this block of a man held his own against the Wallaby and All Black midfielders. He’s actually a converted fullback.

2 Adriaan Strauss

Age: 27 Caps: 18. Club: Cheetahs Height: 6ft Weight: 111kg/17st 5lbs

A natural leader, Richardt’s tough cousin waited half his career to become an established international and injury to Bismarck du Plessis coupled with John Smit’s retirement finally opened the door.

14 JP Pietersen

Age: 26 Caps: 45. Club: Sharks Height: 6ft 3in Weight: 102kg/16st

Big and lighting quick, one of the game’s great wingers, and centres if necessary, but he’s no Bryan Habana. Still capable of tearing Ireland apart or putting the finishing touches on a line break.

3 Jannie du Plessis

Age: 30 Caps: 39 Club: Sharks Height: 6ft 2in Weight: 119kg/18st 7lbs

Another who waited a long time before establishing himself as an international standard prop. Big, strong, mobile but hardly intimidating or destructive.

11 Francois Hougaard

Age: 24 Caps: 24 Club: Blue Bulls. Height: 5ft 9in Weight: 91kg/14st 3lbs

Scrumhalf by trade, he has been unable to fill the void left by Fourie du Preez but a combination of pace and aggression gets him selected ahead of the natural flyers in the squad.

12 Jean de Villiers

Age: 31 Caps: 81. Club Stormers. Height: 6ft 3in Weight: 100kg/15st 8lbs

The Springboks’ 54th captain hardly set the world alight during his season with Munster but he has proven to be the complete midfield operator in a green jersey. Constant intercept threat.

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