The 31-man Springbok side for Japan has picked itself, so there will be no drama today. Photo: Florencia Tanjun/AP

JOHANNESBURG - There will be no surprises when Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus announces his 31-man squad today to play at the World Cup in Japan from later next month.

All the players who’ve been part of the Springboks’ preparations over the last two years and most especially this year in the Rugby Championship will be there. The glaring omissions will be injured men like Warren Whiteley and Aphiwe Dyantyi and the just-returned-to-action Damian Willemse.

Dyantyi’s forthcoming battle to prove his innocence following being found to have used a banned substance from a urine test in early July has ensured he will not be part of the World Cup squad anyway. He is also unlikely to feature in a standby list in case of injury.

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Whiteley’s playing future is also in doubt following the knee injury that has prevented him from playing for the Boks this year and he, too, is unlikely to be on a standby list. Willemse though, if he is not a squad pick from left field following his return to action in the last two weeks, also after a knee injury, is however sure to be on a standby list.

Erasmus will today name a 31-man squad that not too many fans will be displeased about. It will include Siya Kolisi as the captain and 17 forwards and 14 backs. Marcell Coetzee, who was part of the Rugby Championship group, will miss out through injury, while Rynhardt Elstadt, who only came into the Bok picture this year, will also drop out of the reckoning.

Kwagga Smith, with his high work-rate and tackle count, seems to have done enough to warrant his selection for the Rugby World Cup in Japan to be picked today. Photo: BackpagePix

There will be 12 black players in the squad and seven men who have played their rugby for overseas-based teams in the last year.

The big questions before today’s announcement revolved around how many loose-forwards, locks and props Erasmus would take to Japan. It appears Duane Vermeulem, Francois Louw, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kwagga Smith will join Kolisi in the loose-forwards mix, with Smith the surprise pick considering he played only the one Test last year - against Wales in Washington.

But, the former Sevens star’s consistent performances for the Lions in Super Rugby earlier this year and his work-rate and high tackle count appear to have won over Erasmus.

The four locks will be Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, RG Snyman and Lood de Jager and the front row props Frans Malherbe, Trevor Nyakane, Beast Mtawarira, Vincent Koch and Steven Kitshoff.

Thirteen players who featured at the last World Cup in 2015, under the guidance of Heyneke Meyer, will go to Japan, too. They are backs Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende and Handre Pollard, and forwards, Schalk Brits, Malherbe, Mtawarira, Nyakane, De Jager, Du Toit, Etzebeth, Kolisi, Louw and Vermeulen.

Two players will feature at their third World Cup, after also playing in 2011, namely Louw and Mtawarira, while centre Frans Steyn - he didn’t play at the 2011 tournament, he did, however, feature in 2007 when the Boks last won the World Cup.

The 31-man squad will wrap up their preparations for the tournament in Johannesburg this week before flying out to Japan on Saturday. They will be based in Yokohama and play against the Japanese national side in their final warm-up game before the start of the tournament, on September 21, when the Boks go up against New Zealand.

The Springbok team for the Rugby World Cup will be announced at 3pm today.

@jacq_west


TheStar

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