The definitive guide to the Bok squad

rugby10 June 2024 06:59
By:Brenden Nel
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Makazole Mapimpi © Gallo Images

While much fanfare has been made of the Springbok squad announced on the weekend that included 11 uncapped players, the Bok team that will face Ireland in the two test series is likely to look very different, and much more like the World Cup final match day 23 than what will take the field against Wales at Twickenham on June 22.

The exit of the Sharks and Lions, as well as some recoveries from injury and concessions from European clubs mean that the Bok team to face Wales is likely to look a lot stronger than it would have a few months ago.

Still, even if it is at its strongest it is only likely to feature 11 players who played in the match day 23 in the World Cup final.

So now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look in depth at the squad composition, who missed out and who is likely to return to the squad when the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, and the European season is over.


Willie le Roux is not available as long as the Bulls stay in the URC but the injuries to both Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse have come as a blow to the Boks ahead of the test season, yet both are hopefully not too far off recovery as the Bulls hastened their operations for fractures as soon as they could schedule it.

Still, it does leave the Boks with a quandary at fullback. Without those three, who have been in sublime form for the Bulls, Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi look certainties to be in a back three against Wales.

But the Boks have the luxury of an in-form Aphelele Fassi to experiment with while newbies Quan Horn and Edwill van der Merwe could also find themselves with a test debut if the Boks decide to be more adventurous.

Of course, Jesse Kriel has played wing for the Boks in the past and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu is a talent like few we’ve seen over the past few years and could be a like for like replacement for Damian Willemse, the other big name injured since the World Cup.


The inclusion of Andre Esterhuizen alongside Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel already gives the Boks a strong midfield going into the test season, even with Lukhanyo Am still out injured. Young Sharks hopeful Ethan Hooker looks to have been included very much for the future, and it will be interesting to see if the Boks play him after just a handful of Sharks games under his belt.

The versatility in the squad means that Feinberg-Mngomezulu is another option, as is Jordan Hendrikse, who played 12 for the Lions this season as well.

But here you would probably expect the Boks to settle on their midfield combination for the Ireland series against Wales.


The search is on for the next Bok 10. While there has been some consternation at the lack of depth in the 10 jersey, the selection of five players who can all play 10 makes for some interesting reading indeed. While some of the players are adept to playing more than one position, it is clear the Boks are looking ahead here to the next World Cup and want to find the successor to Handre Pollard.

Working with the new 10s may give them more than enough time to decide who will become the heir apparent, especially with the ongoing concerns about Manie Libbok’s kicking. Pollard isn’t available for the Wales game, but will be there to give his knowledge and help the younger 10s along.

Siya Masuku has been the man on everyone’s lips in the latter part of the season but consistency has been Jordan Hendrikse’s main asset, while Libbok should still be ahead in the pecking order. Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s versatility makes him an interesting choice and where the Boks plan on using him will be watched.

At scrumhalf, the injury to Jaden Hendrikse and Cobus Reinach’s unavailability means that Morne van den Berg snuck in unnoticed by many after some good performances for the Lions. The nippy halfback beat out Sanele Nohamba to the selection, something that may have surprised many given Nohamba’s ability to play 10 as well, but it is clear the Boks have a plan in mind.

With Faf de Klerk there and Grant Williams next in line, Van den Berg’s selection also means bad news for Herschel Jantjies, who seems to have fallen more out of favour while the form halfback of the URC, Embrose Papier, is unavailable as long as the Bulls stay in the competition.


Phepsi Buthelezi and Ben-Jason Dixon’s strong season for their respective sides has been rewarded and there is still a lot of depth at loose forward that can be exploited outside the selection.

Consider that Duane Vermeulen is injured, Jasper Wiese banned for six matches and Deon Fourie injured as well (although it is uncertain he would be selected still). The Boks have options, and many of them.

Pieter-Steph du Toit should still claim the seven jersey, Kwagga Smith is the natural successor at eight and Evan Roos has been tearing it up for the Stormers at six.

And then there is the Bulls trio of Marco van Staden, Cameron Hanekom and Celimpilo Gumede, who were all invited to the alignment camp, with Van Staden a World Cup winner that is likely to return to the squad as soon as the Bulls finish their URC campaign.

Oh, and don’t forget a certain double World Cup winning captain in Siya Kolisi, who is unavailable as the Top 14 in France is still on and should return to the squad before the Ireland tests.

All this means many options for Rassie Erasmus and his coaches, but unlocking the best combination now for Wales, and for Ireland, as well as one eye on the future makes this interesting to watch.


Here is possibly the only concerning area for the Boks ahead of the Wales test in case they pick up an injury. The squad selection includes only three locks, with a bunch unavailable or injured and while it is clear the three are likely to form part of the game against Wales, unless the coaches experiment with a flanker doubling up on the bench, there is a longer question on who returns ahead of the Irish series.

Eben Etzebeth seems to be a certainty while Franco Mostert is the obvious partner for him in the current squad. Salmaan Moerat has long been seen by the coaches as the Bok lock for the next World Cup, even though injuries stifled him at times.

But further than that there are a lot of options, just perhaps not available for selection right now. RG Snyman continues to help Munster defend their title while Jean Kleyn has an eye socket injury that will keep him out for a while. Ruan Nortje has been part of the Bok alignment camps and was part of the wider squad two years ago, and could get a call-up when the Bulls finish their campaign while Lood de Jager continues his recovery from injury.

The one player unlucky was Ruben van Heerden, who has been a rock for the Stormers this season and if there are injuries, could be looked at.


With Malcolm Marx back, but without game time, he is likely to play against Wales to get him back on the park. Marx hasn’t played since his World Cup injury but the Boks have enough confidence to put him on the park at Twickenham while Bongi Mbonambi remains the go-to man for the team and is one of the captaincy candidates going forward for Erasmus.

The Bulls duo of Johan Grobbelaar and Jan-Hendrik Wessels were both invited to the Bok alignment camp but are still busy with the URC and Grobbelaar may well come into the squad ahead of the rest of the international season as he has been knocking on the door for some time now and was part of the training squad in the past.

Andre-Hugo Venter has been solid for the Stormers, while Joseph Dweba will want to make up for missing out on the World Cup squad.


Neethling Fouche won more scrum penalties in the URC than any other tighthead and it was no surprise when he was called up to the Bok camp. It also won’t be surprising to see either of the Bulls front row - Gerhard Steenekamp and Wilco Louw added when the URC campaign is finished, especially on the back of their performances this season, and their demolition of the World Cup winning front row in Durban a few weeks back.

Steenekamp was already part of the Bok squad before the World Cup and Louw has been outstanding, so it won’t be a surprise there.

But Fouche and the others will have a tough time in lifting Bud Spencer, aka Frans Malherbe from the starting role, while Vincent Koch has been a massive part of the scrum success over the past few years as well.

Ox Nche is the natural looshead candidate with Steven Kitshoff injured, while Nthuthuko Mnchunu is likely to back him up at Twickenham. Kitshoff will return at some stage, but Steenekamp is likely to join the team ahead of Ireland.

One player who was unlucky though, was Thomas du Toit, who has had a sensational season with Bath and was in the Premiership team of the season. He also was Bath’s best player as they narrowly lost to Northampton in the Premiership final on Saturday.

Below is a table of those selected, those injured, those unavailable and those unlucky to miss out. The names have been taken from those invited to the alignment camps and the Bok selection.