It’s now or never for fringe Springboks players to claim their Rugby World Cup spot

South Africa's scrumhalf Grant Williams runs with the ball during the Rugby Championship first round match between South Africa and Australia at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria

The time is now for Rugby World Cup hopefuls to stake their claim in the Springbok squad, with just two Rugby Championship matches remaining for South Africa. Seen here: South Africa’s Grant Williams with the ball. Picture: Phil Magakoe/AFP

Published Jul 17, 2023


Cape Town - Several fringe players in the Springboks squad will only have the next two Test matches, if selected to play, to stake a final claim for a place in South Africa's 2023 Rugby World Cup group.

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber will announce his 33-man squad for the defence of the title at France 2023 on August 8 and South Africa only have two Tests against Argentina, home and away, before the expected announcement.

They face Los Pumas at Ellis Park (July 29) in the final Rugby Championship Test, and in Argentina (August 6) in a friendly match ahead of the trimming of the squad.

That means the next two matches will be make-or-break for those still hoping to punch their ticket to the tournament.

The Springboks start their title defence against Scotland (September 10), while they will face Romania (September 17), Ireland (September 27), and Tonga (October 1) in the group stage.

South Africa achieved mixed results in the first two Rugby Championship matches beating Australia (43-12) convincingly in Pretoria but falling to the All Blacks (35-20) this past Saturday.

After strong performances by players like Andre Esterhuizen, Grant Williams, Marco van Staden, Jean Kleyn, Canan Moodie, and Marvin Orie in the Australia game they will be some of the hopefuls to get another look-in against the Argentinians.

Out of the bunch, Williams was the only one involved in the Test against New Zealand in Auckland and put in another sharp cameo after replacing Faf de Klerk to make him a serious contender for the next few games.

Orie, Kleyn, Van Staden, eighthman Evan Roos, along with Esterhuizen and Moodie have a host of other forwards and backs ahead of them in the pecking order, but will want to grab any last chance they can get to put a tick behind their names.

Esterhuizen especially, will want another chance after being overlooked for the All Blacks Test with Damian de Allende preferred in the 12-jersey. Nienaber and his coaches know what they have in De Allende and it will be far more beneficial to the Boks to see where Esterhuizen will be after two more Tests after his return to the fold.

He surely can't just be judged on his performance against Australia only, and should probably feature in one or two more Tests to give him a proper shot at making the squad.

Williams can be another bolter for France, but the coaches will most likely first want to see how he fares as the starting scrumhalf for the Boks. Well, the Argentina Tests will provide them with the opportunity to do so. He is competing with Jaden Hendrikse, Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach, and Herschel Jantjies to be one of the three scrumhalves the Boks will take to defend their title.

Speaking about Jantjies, the 2019 World Cup winner will be desperate for some Bok game time to state his case. He's fallen down the pecking order, just like flyhalf Elton Jantjies and the two probably have a slim chance of making the squad.


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