The best of the best to face Ireland

By Lucky Maree

If the Springboks were to play the World Cup final this weekend, this might very well be the team the South African management would pick. 

Does it need to be said that Ireland is not Romania? There is no such thing as scrumhalves playing on the wing or wings playing at centre. Rassie and Jacques Nienaber have not made any surprising decisions in selecting 23 players for the match to be played at the Stade de France in Paris on 23 September.

It is no surprise that Handré Pollard is not in the team after Nienaber said he would train with the group during the week and then be eligible for selection (probably against Tonga).

There can be no greater test for flyhalf Manie Libbok to prove that he is the first-choice number 10 Springbok. The nation is holding its breath.

The good news is that Eben Etzebeth is ready to play after his injury scare during the week. Should Etzebeth have been left out of the side or at least been on the bench? Etzebeth starts alongside Franco Mostert. With RG Snyman and Jean Kleyn on the bench that means there is no place for Marvin Orie.

Likewise, Andre Esterhuizen is unlucky to not get a place in the team.


Surprisingly Jasper Wiese starts at number eight and Kwagga Smith is on the bench which means Duane Vermeulen won’t play this weekend.

Once again the Springbok management have rolled the dice with seven forwards on the bench, with only Cobus Reinach as a recognised back in reserve. While Grant Williams and Jaden Hendrikse can count themselves unlucky to not be in the team, it is hard to argue against the selection of Reinach who seems to be getting better every time he touches the ball. 

Both Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden can come on as flanker or hooker. That remains to be seen.

If the bar was set high when playing Scotland, the bar is now a notch higher. If the match between the All Blacks and France was named as a World Cup final, this one is just a little closer to that claim. 

The team: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff

The bench: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19, Jean Kleyn, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Marco van Staden, 22 Kwagga Smith, 23 Cobus Reinach

Pictured above: Back from injury, Etzebeth will again be the pivot in the scrum 

Image source: SA Rugby

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