PART 3: Top 50 post-isolation Springboks
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TODAY we bring you Part 3 of our Top 50 post-isolation Springboks, and a clearer picture is starting to emerge.
You can look at
and 3 and compare the players we have ranked from 50 to 21. As we stated on Monday and Tuesday, we encourage engagement on this matter as we understand that different people will have their own opinions.
Every player named today was involved in at least one of South Africa’s three World Cup victories, such is the rich history of our rugby since the end of isolation.
30. Willie le Roux (61 caps)
The 30-year-old former Cheetahs and Sharks fullback unfairly came in for a lot of criticism last year, but his presence in the Springboks’ backline during their victorious World Cup campaign brought a calming influence. With more skilful players like Warrick Gelant, Damian Willemse and Aphelele Fassi looking to take the number 15 jersey from him, it’s interesting to see what the future holds for Le Roux. He’s been a very valuable asset in the green and gold, and at times reminiscent of the Rolls Royce of South African fullbacks, Andre Joubert.
29. Mark Andrews (77 caps)
He was used as a utility forward before it was cool earlier on in his career, and he did well whether he played in the second or back row. But, it’s at lock where is more remembered. His opponents knew they had to be on their game at lineouts, and his ball skills were pretty impressive for a 90s/early 2000s tight forward.
28. Faf de Klerk (30 caps)
He was a big proponent in the Springboks’ game plan that helped them win the World Cup last year. He was predictable, which irked many fans, but he was the king of the box kick at the base of the scrum. His blonde mop has been a constant feature for the Boks over the last couple of years, and who can forget his patriotic speedos after last year’s final.
Pieter-Steph du Toit was voted the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2019.
27. Pieter-Steph du Toit (55 caps)
Pieter-Steph du Toit deserves every plaudit he’s received over the last year or two. According to his individual awards cabinet, he is currently the best player in the world right now. Who can argue with that? He’s transformed from a good second-row option for the Boks to a world-class blindside flanker whose tackle count is second to none.
26. Bismarck du Plessis (79 caps)
Bismarck du Plessis was the best hooker in the world for a number of seasons, but he just couldn’t get a start for the Springboks due to the presence of one John Smit. But, the inspirational captain was moved to tighthead to may for the talented Grey College Old Boy.
25. Danie Rossouw (63 caps)
Whether he was in the second row, the side or back of the scrum, Danie Rossouw gave his. He was so good wherever he played that we really didn’t know what his preferred position was. He was the first choice number eight at the 2007 World Cup following Pierre Spies’ illness, and he made the jersey his own in that competition. Who can forget his last-ditch, try-saving tackle on Mark Cueto in the final against England?
24. Juan Smith (70 caps)
Like Danie Rossouw, Juan Smith impressed whether he played on the side of the scrum or at the back. During Jake White’s tenure as Springboks coach, Smith was surely one of the first names pencilled in. He was renowned for his ball-carrying skills, which made him one of the best blindside flankers in the world at the time. Unfortunately, his international career was sadly cut short by an Achilles injury in 2012 that saw him take a year off from the game.
23. JP Pietersen (70 caps)
While many regarded JP Pietersen as the heir apparent to Percy Montgomery in the number 15 jersey, he made a name for himself on the wing, becoming one of the deadliest finishers in the game. He scored twice as the Boks smashed England when the two sides met in the first round of the 2007 global showpiece. At the 2015 World Cup, he emulated Chester Williams by scoring a hattrick against Samoa.
22. Francois Pienaar (29 caps)
Francois Pienaar beat out Tiaan Strauss, who would go on to win the 1999 World Cup with Australia, for a place in the 1995 side. Then Bok coach Kitch Christie was so impressed with the Transvaal man’s leadership abilities that he appointed him as captain in all of the 29 Tests he played in. The image of Pienaar and Nelson Mandela standing side-by-side in matching Springbok number 6 jerseys is one of the most iconic in South African sport. His role in helping usher in the professional era can also not be understated.
21. Jacque Fourie (72 caps)
Jacque Fourie played fullback in the early days of his career, but it’s at outside centre where he made a name for himself. Fourie and Jean de Villiers formed an impressive partnership and were one of the world’s most dangerous centre pairings during their time together. His try-scoring record was not bad either, with only Bryan Habana and Joost van der Westhuizen scoring more Test tries.