The 125kg scrum monsters, ‘rugby’s Messi’ and the bomb squad – meet the Springboks intent on devouring Ireland

Ahead of Ireland’s mouthwatering clash against South Africa, we break down the 23 Springboks who are looking to claim a big victory at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.

15 – Cheslin Kolbe (170cm, 80kg, 20 caps)

Ronan O’Gara called him rugby’s Leo Messi and the fleet-footed Toulon star is back in the Boks shirt for the first time since the July series with Wales. One of the best game-breakers in the sport.

14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (177cm, 80kg, 3 caps)

The Stormer mirrors Kolbe’s style and if Ireland kick loosely he’ll punish them with relish. Diminutive, but he launches himself into the air to make himself a threat.

13 – Jesse Kriel (186cm, 96kg, 56 caps)

Was on the wing when they won the World Cup due to Lukhanyo Am’s superior attack, but Kriel’s defense is world-class. A strong, direct centre.

12 – Damian de Allende (189cm, 101kg, 65 caps)

Munster fans know the classy center well after his two seasons at Thomond Park. He’s an experienced, clever operator with a strong carrying and passing game.

11 – Makazole Mapimpi (184cm, 90kg, 33 caps)

Announced himself in the old PRO14 and has kicked on from there. An all-round winger, he’s good in the air and a devastating finisher.

10 – Damian Willemse (183cm, 86kg, 23 caps)

One of the lesser-known propositions in the Boks team, he won most of his caps off the bench as a utility back but now he’s the main man. A game-breaking talent with a good kicking game.

9 – Jaden Hendrikse (184cm, 86kg, 10 caps)

If he’s good enough to force Faf de Klerk on to the bench then he must be some player. Has all the attributes of a top-quality No 9, even if he’s a little raw.

1 – Steven Kitshoff (184cm, 125kg, 67 caps)

Probably the best scrummaging loosehead in the world, the Ulster-bound 30-year-old is a destructive force.

2 – Malcolm Marx (189cm, 117kg, 55 caps)

There is no better hooker in the world than Marx when he’s on the money. Pure power in contact.

3 – Frans Malherbe (191cm, 125kg, 54 caps)

His mission is to grind Andrew Porter down at scrum-time. Official weight of 125kg looks shy of reality.

4 – Eben Etzebeth (203cm, 117kg, 106 caps)

The Sharks’ new signing is Bakkies Botha’s heir and is regarded as the best enforcer second-row in the game.

5 – Lood de Jager (205cm, 112kg, 64 caps)

A lineout specialist who towers over his opponents, he’s also a clever operator at the maul.

6 – Siya Kolisi (186cm, 107kg, 71 caps)

The lightest man in the starting pack, the captain’s tackle technique and breakdown work set him apart.

7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (200cm, 119kg, 64 caps)

2019 World Player of the Year is the game’s leading hybrid lock, capable of dominant performances and incredible athleticism.

8 – Jasper Wiese (190cm, 117kg, 17 caps)

A hard-nosed ball-carrier who earned his stripes with the Leicester Tigers, he’s a collision-winner.


16 – Bongi Mbonambi (176cm, 106kg, 52 caps)

Often a starter, the Shark is strong in the loose but doesn’t shirk on set-piece.

17 – Ox Nche (176cm, 115kg, 15 caps)

A breakout URC star in his Cheetahs days, the current Sharks prop is a baller whose loose play adds something extra.

18 – Vincent Koch (185cm, 118kg, 37 caps)

A dominant force for Saracens and now at Stade Francais. He’s a superb scrum technician.

19 – Franco Mostert (198cm, 112kg, 59 caps)

De Jager’s deputy is another canny lineout operator whose maul work is supreme.

20 – Deon Fourie (177cm, 100kg, 3 caps)

With just three caps to his name at the age of 36, Fourie spent most of his career in France. He will attack Ireland’s breakdown.

21 – Kwagga Smith (180cm, 95kg, 27 caps)

The lightest forward in the Boks collection, Smith will join Fourie in trying to disrupt Ireland at the ruck.

22 – Faf de Klerk (172cm, 80kg, 42 caps)

A world-leading scrum-half in 2019, he has lost his place in the team but will bring experience and his own style when he enters the fray.

23 – Willie le Roux (186cm, 90kg, 79 caps)

Full-back Le Roux seems an odd choice to cover across the backline, but he has bags of experience and adds a second-playmaker option for Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber. Kolbe is covering out-half.

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