Joost van der Westhuizen is the only one of the current crop of Springbok rugby players who makes it into the best 50 of all time.

The veteran scrumhalf, who played his 89th test on Saturday, is No 13 in a new book which ranks the top 50 Springbok players of all time.

The Chosen - The 50 Greatest Springboks of All Time is authored by Weekend Argus rugby columnist Andy Colquhoun and rugby historian Paul Dobson. They assembled a panel of selectors, which included the late AF Markotter and Danie Craven, to help them select the best Boks over more than 100 years of South African rugby.

Their decision on the best South African rugby player of all time is Danie Gerber, the great centre of the eighties who is now an assistant coach with the Mpumalanga Pumas.

The authors, along with publisher Don Nelson, studied the writings of Markotter and Craven to determine which players of a long gone generation needed to be considered for selection. Twenty-one of the greatest Boks are drawn from the era 1896 to 1956 when the Springboks never lost a test series. That golden run ended on the Springbok tour of New Zealand in 1956.

The selection panel also includes Louis Babrow, one of only two survivors of the legendary 1937 Springbok team, former Bok captain Johan Claassen, Dave Stewart, Ian Kirkpatrick, Andre Markgraaff and rugby writer Dan Retief.

The panel debated, argued, disagreed, fought over and finally came up with the 50 best players. They will be chastised for leaving out Tian Strauss, Rob Louw, Andre Venter, Bobby Skinstad, Chester Williams and Dawie de Villiers, but they have been unafraid to nail their selections to the post, so to speak.

Old-timers will nod in agreement with Hennie Muller's position at No 3, but a middle-aged generation might dispute Mannetjies Roux's low ranking at 25. Yet others will praise HO de Villiers' position No 6 and argue that it might have been even higher had the brilliant fullback not been cut down in his prime by injury.

Few will argue that Frik du Preez deserves his place as second best, but is Naas only No 4? As one of the selectors said, the book and its selections will generate a great braaivleis debate.

  • 1 Danie Gerber, 2 Frik du Preez, 3 Hennie Muller, 4 Naas Botha, 5 Danie Craven, 6 HO de Villiers, 7 Bennie Osler, 8 Doug Hopwood, 9 John Gainsford, 10 Japie Krige, 11 Carel du Plessis, 12 Jan Ellis, 13 Joost van der Westhuizen, 14 Boy Louw, 15 Gerry Brand, 16 Hansie Brewis, 17 Jan Lotz, 18 Uli Schmidt, 19 Ray Mordt, 20 Andre Joubert, 21 Chris Koch, 22 Phil Mostert, 23 Fairy Heatlie, 24 Martin Pelser, 25 Mannetjies Roux, 26 Morne du Plessis, 27 Douggie Morkel, 28 Stephen Fry, 29 Henry Honiball, 30 Piet du Toit, 31 Gerhard Morkel, 32 Johan Claassen, 33 Theuns Stofberg, 34 Phillip Nel, 35 Jaap Bekker, 36 Piet Greyling, 37 Avril Malan, 38 Os du Randt, 39 Boy Morkel, 40 Dai Williams, 41 Mark Andrews, 42 Ruben Kruger, 43 Divan Serfontein, 44 Gary Teichmann, 45 Francois Pienaar, 46 Errol Tobias, 47 Louis Babrow, 48 Joggie Jansen, 49 Pierre de Villiers, 50 Ferdie Bergh.