Springboks Elton Jantjies

Elton Jantjies. Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Three Springboks who’ve seen RWC dream end in past 12 months!

Various factors have led to some well-known Springboks losing ground in the race to earn World Cup selection.

Springboks Elton Jantjies

Elton Jantjies. Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The Springboks will begin their 2023 season on Saturday, 8 July, with their opening Rugby Championship match against the Wallabies in Pretoria, which will be followed by a Test against New Zealand in Auckland (15 July), before returning to South Africa for their closing match of the abbreviated version of the tournament against Argentina in Johannesburg (29 July).

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They will then play three Rugby World Cup warm-up matches: against Argentina in Buenos Aires (Saturday, 5 August), Wales in Cardiff (Saturday, 19 August) and New Zealand in London (Friday, 25 August) before departing for the Rugby World Cup in France.

This past weekend, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named a Rugby Championship training squad of 40 players, with the majority of these players set to be included in the 33-man World Cup squad, which will be revealed in early August.

Unfortunately, when looking at this training squad and taking a more long-term view, it’s clear that three World Cup winners from 2019 are unlikely to go to France this year.

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Elton Jantjies

For so long, Jantjies has served as the second-choice flyhalf in the Springboks squad, but his fortunes at national level have undergone a drastic change in the last 12 months.

Besides battling with injuries and poor form last year, Jantjies was at the centre of scandals off the field, which ranged from some shocking behaviour on a flight to his involvement in an alleged tryst with team dietician Zeenat Simjee.

Although Jantjies set his sights on reviving his career in France, his omission from the latest training squad is a clear indication that he has fallen out of favour and out of the World Cup picture.

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Frans Steyn

The double World Cup winner featured in four Tests last season, and it seemed like the 36-year-old remained on track to head to yet another World Cup this year.

However, after relatively limited high-level game-time with the Cheetahs, he picked up a serious knee injury at the worst possible time earlier this year.

While the Springboks have opted to include injured players such as Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth in the latest training squad, they have opted against including Steyn.

The signs suggest that ‘next generation’ superstar Canan Moodie is now well-placed to earn one of the coveted World Cup selection among the utility backs.

Herschel Jantjies

The 27-year-old regularly featured off the bench in the 2019 World Cup, and he has earned inclusion along with four other scrumhalves in the Bok training squad.

However, the fact of the matter is that the Springboks can only afford to include three halfbacks in a 33-man RWC squad, with the likes of Cheslin Kolbe able to cover at 9 in an emergency.

Although Jantjies did enjoy a resurgence in form for the Stormers during the latter part of the URC season, it’s impossible to see him moving ahead of Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach or Jaden Hendrikse in the World Cup pecking order.

If there’s an injury or dramatic loss in form among those three, then he could earn a ticket to France, but some may even view Grant Williams as the next in line in that scenario.

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Springboks Rugby Championship Training Squad:

Props: Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), Vincent Koch (Stade Francais), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92).

Hookers: Joseph Dweba (DHL Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks).

Locks: Lood de Jager (Wild Knights), Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks), Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers), RG Snyman (Munster).

Loose Forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks), Evan Roos (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Ulster), Jasper Wiese (Leicester).

Utility Forwards: Jean-Luc du Preez (Sale Sharks), Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat).

Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks), Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks).

Flyhalves: Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers), Handre Pollard (Leicester), Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers).

Centres: Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles).

Outside Backs: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks), Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls).

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The Springboks in training. Photo: SA Rugby website

2023 fixtures:

Rugby Championship:
Saturday, 8 July – Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 15 July – Springboks vs New Zealand (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland)
Saturday, 29 July – Springboks vs Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

RWC warm-up fixtures:
Saturday, 5 August – Springboks v Argentina (Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires)
Saturday, 19 August – Springboks vs Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
Friday, 25 August – Springboks vs New Zealand (Twickenham, London)

RWC fixtures:
Sunday, 10 September – Springboks v Scotland (Stade Marseille, Marseille)
Sunday, 17 September – Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday, 23 September – Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)
Sunday, 1 October – Springboks v Tonga (Stade Marseille, Marseille)

Weekend of 14/15 October – Quarter-finals
Weekend of 21/22 October – Semi-finals
Saturday, 28 October – Final

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