Springboks supporter Klein Strydom fears that too many of the 2019 South African Rugby World Cup winners are past their sell-by date.
Strydom, in his Fans’s view, does not know whether to applaud the loyalty Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have shown to the 2019 World Cup winning players or to fear it.
Loyalty: Surely a trait that most people would admire? Will it win the World Cup for South Africa this year? Is there room for loyalty in professional rugby?
Nienaber and Erasmus have shown unwavering loyalty to largely the same group of players who won the Webb Ellis trophy in 2019. This despite players being injured, playing poorly and lacking sharpness.
It has clearly made little difference how well the fringe players have performed- the squad was selected long before the recent Internationals. There are numerous examples of this, but it is unfair to single out the players concerned – they don’t select themselves.
This may, come the end of the World Cup, prove to be a masterstroke. We shall see.
Nick Mallett showed no loyalty to his captain, Gary Teichmann, in 199 and it cost the country dearly as well as denying one of our greatest captains the opportunity of playing in a World Cup.
I fervently hope that Rassie and Jacques prove to be right in their loyalty towards certain players and that South Africa will rejoice again like we did in 2019. I fear, however, that too many of the chosen ones are past their best and that 2023 will prove to be a bridge too far for them.
I hope I am wrong.
*The survivors of the 2019 final win against England are: Backline: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Makazole Mapimpi, Damian de Allende and Faf de Klerk. Flyhalf Handre Pollard and inside centre Lukhanyo Am have been given more time to recover from injury and will be drafted into the World Cup squad if fit enough next month. Forwards: Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi. Lock Lood de Jager was not considered because of injury and loose-head prop Tendai Mtawarira has retired. All the available players from the famed Bok Bomb Squad (substitute’s replacements) have been included, with the only absentees being the retired loose-forward Francois Louw and utility back Frans Steyn.