World Cup player profiles: South Africa

Date published: September 11 2015

Ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we take a look at all of the players set to feature in England. Next up, South Africa

Forwards: Schalk Brits, Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Victor Matfield (vc), Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen

Backs:  Fourie du Preez, Rudy Paige, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Handrè Pollard, Morné Steyn, Jean de Villiers, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner, Willie le Roux, Lwazi Mvovo, JP Pietersen.


Hooker    1.82m    100kg    16.05.1981

One of the quickest and most explosive hookers in world rugby, Brits plied his trade with the Stormers before moving north to Saracens in 2009. Brits won three caps with the Springboks in 2008 before leaving South Africa. One of the most dynamic players in the European game, his good form with Saracens was rewarded with an international recall in 2012, and he was again called into the squad in 2014.


Hooker    1.89m    112kg     22.05.1984

The fiery hooker first played for the Boks in 2007 and was named vice-captain ahead of the England series in 2012. Du Plessis, who was also a member of the 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning squad, replaced former skipper John Smit as South Africa's first choice hooker. He is exceptionally strong with ball in hand and superb on the ground, where he regularly wins turnovers for his team. He will further his career at Top 14 club Montpellier after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.


Hooker    1.85m    113kg    18.11.1985

Atter, as he is known to his team mates, became South Africas 800th Springbok when he was called up for the 2008 Tri-Nations. Strauss, took over the vice-captaincy following a serious knee injury suffered by Bismarck du Plessis against Argentina in Cape Town in 2013. Strauss' senior career started at the Blue Bulls in 2005 but he moved to the Cheetahs in 2007 before returning to the Bulls in 2015. He is set to appear in his first Rugby World Cup in 2015 after missing out on selection to the 2011 tournament.


Prop    1.88m    120kg    16.11.1982

Du Plessis cemented his place as the Springboks' first choice tighthead in 2012 and played in every Test during that season. A classic tighthead prop who does not shy away from the dirty work, Jannie has been anchoring provincial scrums, first for the Cheetahs and later on for the Sharks since 2003, and plays with his younger brother Bismarck for the Sharks and the Springboks. He was also a member of the Springbok squad that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup and will join his brother at Top 14 club Montpellier after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.


Prop    1.90m    122kg    14.03.1991

Tighthead Malherbe won Springbok honours at the tender age of 22 in November 2013, playing against Wales and Scotland. Held in high regard by the Boks management, the prop made his Super Rugby bow in 2011, with a pair of tries against the Highlanders in 2014 a highlight of his fledgling career. He was recalled to the squad after recovering from injury.


Prop    1.83m    115kg    01.08.1985

A crowd favourite at the Shark Tank, Beast Mtawarira is regarded as one of the premier looseheads on the world stage. He made his Test debut against Wales at the start of the 2008 season, was a cornerstone of the Bok scrum when they won the series against the British and Irish Lions in 2009 and during their 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign in New Zealand.


Prop    1.78m    120kg    04.05.1989

A hard-working prop who can play on either side of the front row, Nyakane represented the SA Amateur team in 2007 and is set to make his Rugby World Cup debut in England. His strengths are his scrummaging and ball-carrying. After playing more than 50 games for the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup and Super Rugby he moved to Pretoria at the start of the 2015 Super Rugby season where he represented the Bulls and he made his Test debut for the Springboks in 2013.


  Prop    1.87m    129kg    22.03.1989

One of the game's best young props, 'Coenie' Oosthuizen combines powerful scrummaging with a high work-rate and a strong running game. Although he started his career as mainly a loosehead prop, he has been forced to shift to tighthead by a neck injury. Oosthuizen represented South Africa at U20 level in 2009 and made his senior Springbok debut in 2012.


Lock     2.05m    120kg    17.12.1992

Early in the 2012 season De Jager was still playing in the Varsity Cup Young Guns competition. He has since had a quick rise to the top after making his Super Rugby debut for the Cheetahs last year and coming off the bench for his first Test cap against Wales in Durban. He is a powerful ball carrier and scored twice against Scotland in only his third Test.


Lock    2.00m    117kg     20.08.1992

This athletic lock has already represented the Springboks on the back of his all-action performances for the Sharks. An excellent lineout operator who shows up prominently in the loose, he has been earmarked as Victor Matfield's successor in the Bok number five jersey.


Lock     2.04m    118kg     29.10.1991

A truly terrifying second row in the mould of Bakkies Botha. Etzebeth burst onto the scene in typically abrasive, aggressive, downright ferocious style in 2012 after an impressive debut Super Rugby season and Junior World Championship campaign in 2011. A foot injury ruled him out of large chunks of the 2014 season but after returning to fitness he was recalled for the Rugby Championship and will be playing in his first Rugby World Cup later this year.


  Lock 2.00m 110kg 11.05.1977

The most capped Springbok of all time came out of retirement in 2014 after three years away from rugby and slotted in seamlessly to both the Bulls and the Boks second row. Possessed with a terrific rugby brain, ball skills like few in his position, leadership and a tremendous work-rate, the incredibly experienced Matfield has stepped in as captain in the absence of Jean de Villiers. Matfield is set to retire after the World Cup in England which will be the fourth successive time that he plays at the tournament which he won in 2007.


Flanker    1.92m    120kg    11.05.1984

A back-row enforcer for both the Sharks and the Springboks, Willem Alberts is one of the most feared blindside flankers on the planet. A powerful ball carrier and destructive tackler to match who can also play in the second row or at number eight, Alberts has formed a superb back row partnership with Francois Louw and Duane Vermuelen for South Africa. He made his Test debut in 2010.


Flanker    1.93m    114kg    13.04.1983

A member of South Africa's 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning squad, 2015 is set to be the fourth successive time that Burger participates at the global showpiece as he also played in the 2003 and 2011 versions of the tournament. The winner of the 2004 IRB International Player of the Year award, Burger is rated as one of South Africa's best ever loose forwards. In 2013, Burger made a remarkable comeback to the game after spending 18 months on the sidelines with due to a serious illness and injury and as a reslut won the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2015.


Flanker    1.87m    102kg    16.06.1991

A robust player with a high work-rate, Kolisi is one of the up-and-coming loose forwards on the international scene. He made his Super Rugby bow in 2012 and Springbok debut in 2013. Kolisi posted an impressive 150 tackles in just 13 appearances during the 2013 season. He will be determined to regain his form after going off the boil in 2014.


Flanker     1.90m    114kg    15.06.1985

Louw returned to the Springboks in 2012 and made a huge impact from the outset. He made his Test debut against Wales in Cardiff in June 2010, earning recognition for a string of impressive performances for the Stormers and made his Rugby World Cup debut in New Zealand in 2011. A natural opensider with a knack for poaching opposition ball, he currently plays for Bath in England and can also be used at blindside flank or number eight. He is the grandson of former Springbok lock Jan Pickard.


Number eight     1.93m    108kg    03.07.1986

A hugely likeable Nelspruit native, Vermeulen is a massive unit, and carries the ball with corresponding brutality and effect. Possessed with a sharp rugby brain and a soft pair of hands, he is a mainstay of the Stormers and Springbok pack at number eight, waiting five years after his Super Rugby debut to make his first international appearance in 2012.


 Scrum-half    1.83m    89kg     24.03.1982

A veteran Springbok and rated one of the best scrum-halves in the history of the game, Du Preez currently plies his trade for Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath. The 2007 World Cup winning scrum-half made his Test bow in 2004 and also featured at 2011 Rugby World Cup. He is a highly regarded tactician and a close confidant of Heyneke Meyer. The former Blue Bull's excellent ball distribution skills along and accurate kicking are invaluable for South Africa.


Scrum-half     1.69m    77kg    02.08.1989

Featured primarily off the bench in the Bulls’ 2013 Super Rugby season, but the livewire scrum-half provides reliable cover, a considerable impact substitution and a slick pair of hands. He was formerly part of the South Africa U20s squad. After remarkable Super Rugby season he was included in the 2015 Springbok World Cup squad.


Scrum-half    1.87m    92kg    10.03.1984

A very versatile player, Pienaar was used mainly at full-back during South Africa's 2007 World Cup win but has since established himself at scrum-half. One of the best controlling scrum-halves in the game, he has been outstanding for Ulster since moving up north. He was also part of the Boks' 2011 Rugby World Cup squad and is also capable of playing at fly-half.


Fly-half    1.78m     87kg     17.10.1990

He was the youngest member of the Springboks' Rugby World Cup squad in 2011 and has firmly established himself as one of the brightest talents in the local game since making his senior debut in 2009. Lambie, who is one of the standout players for the Sharks, is versatile and can be used at fly-half, inside centre and full-back. He was named South Africa's Young Player of the Year in 2011.


Fly-half    1.89m    96kg     09.03.1994

A precocious talent at fly-half and 2014 skipper of the Baby Boks, Pollard is poised for big things having been earmarked by South Africa boss Heyneke Meyer. Possessed with lovely hands, shrewd vision, and the prized ability to unlock opposition defences, he is perhaps the biggest emerging talent from the Rainbow Nation in 2014. He made his Test debut against Scotland in 2014.


Fly-half    1.84m     91kg    11.07.1984

One of the most experienced fly-halves in Springbok history, Steyn first made his name against the British and Irish Lions in 2009, kicking South Africa to a series victory. He won three Super Rugby titles with the Bulls and became the second South African to reach 500 Test points after Percy Montgomery. He currently plays for Stade Français in France.


Centre    1.90m    100kg    24.02.1981

De Villiers was named Springbok captain for 2012 before the series victory over England in June, which made him South Africa’s 54th Test skipper. He is one of the most experienced Springboks ever and a natural leader, having led Western Province and the Stormers during his provincial career. A serious leg injury in the 2014 November Tests put De Villiers in a race against time to be fit for the 2015 Rugby World Cup but the inspirational skipper recovered in time to make the World Cup squad.


Centre    1.89m    101kg    25.11.1991

Used most often in the centres, De Allende is quick, elusive and powerful with it by virtue of his size. He made 14 Super Rugby appearances during 2013, his debut season, but hit the limelight the following year. Called up to the Springbok squad in 2014, injury curtailed his international ambitions in June but he was recalled for the Rugby Championship and was arguably the best player backline during the Stormers' 2015 Super Rugby campaign.


Full-back/centre    1.86m    95kg    15.02.1994

A star of the 2014 Junior World Championship with South Africa's U20 side, where he played at outside centre, Kriel stood out for the Bulls at full-back in 2015. A typically powerful and pacey influence in the backline, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer believes he has the potential to be "one of the world's best 13s".


Wing     1.80m    94kg    12.06.1983

South Africa's all-time record try-scorer, Habana was named World Rugby Player of the Year in 2007 when he helped the Springboks to win the World Cup. He was also the top try-scorer at that tournament with eight, broke the Springbok try-scoring record for Tests at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and became the first South African to reach 50 Test tries when he scored twice against Samoa in June 2013. Now playing in Toulon, he added a Top 14 and two European Cups to his two Super Rugby titles won with the Bulls.


Full-back    1.85m    95kg    16.06.1984 

Kirchner currently plays for Leinster in the PRO12 and the European Rugby Champions Cup. The former Blue Bull made his Test bow for the Springboks in 2009 and was the first choice full-back before the arrival of Willie le Roux. The 31-year-old is safe under the high-ball and strong on defence. However his attacking game still needs improvement.


Full-back    1.86m    90kg    18.08.1989

Le Roux has established himself as one of the most dangerous open field runners in world rugby since making his Springbok debut in 2013. The Cheetahs full-back or winger is very comfortable stepping in at first receiver and was in devastating form during the June Tests against Wales and Scotland that year. His performances in recent years has cemented his place in Springboks' starting XV and he is set to make his Rugby World Cup debut in England.


Wing     1.85m    94kg    03.06.1986

Blessed with searing pace, excellent footwork and a low centre of gravity, Lwazi Mvovo is one of the Springboks’ most dangerous players. Hailing from the Eastern Cape, the winger made his international debut in a 21-17 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield in 2010, but Mvovo would score a memorable try against England the following week.


Wing    1.90m    96kg    12.07.1986

Pietersen burst on to the scene in 2006 when he made his debut for the Sharks and later that year he was named in the Springboks' 2006 Tri-Nations squad where he played his first Test against New Zealand in Rustenburg. He was part of the Boks' victorious 2007 Rugby World Cup squad in France and during the tournament he cemented his place in the starting line-up as the first-choice right wing. He also played in three matches during the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand and since 2013 he has played for the Panasonic Wildknights in Japan during the Currie Cup competition but returns when toduring their the Sharks' Super Rugby campaign.