EXCLUSIVE: Springboks suffer Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am blow ahead of Rugby World Cup squad announcement

South Africa's Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am (L) attempts to elude a tackle by Argentina's Los Pumas prop Francisco Gomez Kodela during the Rugby Union test match at Jose Amalfitani stadium in Buenos Aires

According to IOL Sport’s information, centre Lukhanyo Am (pictured) will not form part of the Rugby World Cup squad heading to France to defend their title. Picture: Juan Mabromata/AFP

Published Aug 8, 2023


Johannesburg - The Springboks will head to the Rugby World Cup without at least four of the players who helped them to the 2019 title.

According to IOL Sport's information ahead of the squad announcement on Tuesday in Johannesburg, it looks like flyhalf Handre Pollard, centre Lukhanyo Am, lock Lood de Jager and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will not form part of the squad heading to France to defend their title.

That means Manie Libbok could be the only recognised flyhalf, while some shifts could come in the midfield to make up for the loss of Am.

Pollard hasn't played any rugby since injuring his calf at his English Premiership club Leicester Tigers, although he had some training with the Boks. It's a recurring injury, though, and it's set to keep him out of the tournament.

Am injured his knee this past Saturday against Argentina, and it's worse than what was anticipated. In the tackle on him, his knee twisted and although he tried to soldier on in the game, he was replaced shortly after the injury.

De Jager will miss France 2023 due to illness. He was set to play against Los Pumas in Buenos Aires, but had to be withdrawn after being ‘a bit chesty’ according to Bok coach Jacques Nienaber. His illness is also more serious than what was expected.

Nienaber will name his 33-man squad on Tuesday afternoon and it looks like Jantjies, who burst onto the scene shortly before the 2019 World Cup, is one of the scrumhalfs to miss out on selection.

He was unlucky to only get game time in Argentina where he had a decent cameo off the bench. But with the rise of Grant Williams and Jaden Hendrikse and the experience of Faf de Klerk and Cobus Reinach as number 9's, it was always going to be tough for the Stormers' nippy scrumhalf to crack the nod.

Lock Marvin Orie, who enjoyed some valuable minutes in the Rugby Championship, and the warmup against Argentina, looks set to replace De Jager, while Andre Esterhuizen could be a shoe-in to replace Am with Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel able to cover outside centre if needed.

The absence of key players will be a big blow for Boks as they look to successfully defend their title, but Nienaber and his management made sure to give those players who will be in the squad enough game time to successfully slot into the roles of the players set to miss out.

Captain Siya Kolisi is expected to make the cut after doing extensive rehab on a knee injury sustained during the United Rugby Championship.


IOL Sport