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Etzebeth included in Springboks squad

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Etzebeth included in Springboks World Cup squad

Eben Etzebeth has been included in South Africa’s World Cup squad despite the lock being subject to allegations of assault on a homeless man over the weekend.

Earlier today, SA Rugby released a statement confirming that they will assist authorities with any potential investigation into the alleged incident, which has been circulating on social media.

Despite the allegations Etzebeth has been included the 31 man squad announced by Rassie Erasmus today, which will be captained by Siya Kolisi.

There is no place for winger Aphiwe Dyantyi, who tested positive for a banned substance at a recent Springboks training camp.

Of those who did make the cut, Frans Steyn, Tendai Mtawarira and Francois Louw will all be featuring in their third World Cup for the Springboks.

Fourteen of the squad made their Test debut since the last tournament in 2015, while six of those have been capped in the past two seasons since Erasmus, director of rugby, took over as coach.

There are five players with more than 50 caps – Etzebeth, Willie le Roux, Louw, Steyn and Mtawarira – the latter being the most experienced played in the squad with 110 caps.

“I am very happy with the squad we have been able to select” said Erasmus.

“We have been developing this squad since the start of last season and in the 31 we have a good balance of established experience and some exciting youth.

“We set out with the goal of growing the depth of the squad and I am confident that any of this 31 can step into a play-off match at the Rugby World Cup and deliver an outstanding performance.”

The Springboks have given opportunities to 60 players in 18 Tests in the past two years to arrive at their 2019 combination.

All 31 – apart from Kolisi who only returned from injury nine days ago – appeared at some point in the Rugby Championship-winning campaign.

The squad is split between 14 backs and 17 forwards and only seven have fewer than 10 caps – Lukhanyo Am, Warrick Gelant, Jantjies, Kolbe, Nkosi and Smith.

“We’ve been working towards this moment for the best part of two years and we’ve been lucky in achieving most of our goals this season,” said Erasmus.

“We’ve been able to give everyone in the squad some good game time as well as develop combinations with squad rotation and not lose momentum as we go to the World Cup.

“But the results and performances up to now will mean nothing once we are in Japan. It is a case of back to square one; putting in the work on the training field and in the planning sessions to build on what we have achieved.”

The Springboks open their Rugby World Cup campaign against New Zealand in Yokohama on 21 September before further Pool B matches against Namibia (28 September), Italy (4 October) and Canada (8 October).

“We have planned and trained to be competitive at the Rugby World Cup and the work we have done and the performances to date this year have put us into a good space,” said Erasmus.

“Rugby World Cups are usually decided by small margins – a foot in touch here or a referee’s call there – but we have a very good squad that has grown into a tight unit over the past few months and we have definitely grown stronger together.

“I’m sure I speak for the squad when I say we can’t wait for the games to begin.”

The top two teams from the Springboks’ Pool will face quarter-finals against the top two teams from Pool A featuring Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia and Samoa.

The Springboks will play a final warm-up match against Japan on Friday, 6 September in Kumagaya.

South Africa World Cup squad:
Forwards (17)

Schalk Brits (Bulls), Lood de Jager (Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Siya Kolisi (captain, Stormers), Francois Louw (Bath), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Franco Mostert (Gloucester), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Lions), RG Snyman (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Bulls).

Backs (14)
Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Warrick Gelant (Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse,), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), S’bu Nkosi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Handre Pollard (Bulls), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints), Frans Steyn (Montpellier).

World Cup city guide: Kumamoto

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Etzebeth included in Springboks World Cup squad