South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber faces a difficult few days as he finalises his 33-man Rugby World Cup squad after admitting several fringe players put themselves in contention for selection ahead of Tuesday’s announcement.
Constant chopping and changing has been a feature of Springbok sides this season as Nienaber cast his net wide.
This was again evident in the 24-13 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday when they fielded almost an entirely new team from the one that beat the Pumas in Johannesburg the week before.
“That has always been the plan,” Nienaber told reporters. “We said we would try and do this and explained it to the players at the start of the season.
“We have given 38 players the opportunity to play (in four games) and it is going to be a very difficult squad selection meeting. Many guys put their hands up over the last few weeks.
“We tried to make sure everyone had a proper run of minutes, though having said that it is impossible to give each player the same game-time because you want to build combinations.
“Some guys also finished their (domestic seasons) a long time ago, others more recently, so we tried to balance that too.”
Experienced centre Lukhanyo Am was forced off at halftime on Saturday with a knee injury and Nienaber was coy on the early prognosis.
“I am not sure on Lukhanyo, at halftime the team doctor just said he cannot continue,” he said.
The Boks managed to seal victory despite a poor first half in which they were heavily penalised.
“We had to get our stuff in order to grind out this victory,” Nienaber admitted. “Sometimes you concede penalties because you … get it technically wrong, which is one thing, but the avoidable penalties, which are in your own control, we have to limit those.
“The World Cup will be so close and so tight, where any team can beat any other on the day, so discipline will be a big issue.”