Experience will test Boks

The 26-man World XV squad has a wealth of experience with the players boasting an impressive 901 Test caps amongst them.

Compared to the 400 Test caps in the 23-man squad announced by Jake White on Tuesday, the gulf is immense. It must be remembered though that many of the World XV are past their prime, while most of White’s Boks are at the peak of their careers.

The World XV is in South Africa on a 10-day tour, during which it will face a Springbok XV at Ellis Park in Johannebsurg on June 3 and a Western Province Corne Krige XV at Newlands in Cape Town on June 9.

The squad is mostly drawn from international players based in the United Kingdom with two drawn from the Japanese league. Seven Nationalities are represented in the squad, which includes seven New Zealanders, eight Frenchmen, five Australians, three Englishmen, one South African, one Italian and one Fijian.

The highest capped player in the squad is flanker Olivier Magne, who has represented France 83 times. He is closely followed by New Zealand scrumhalf Justin Marshall and Australian fullback Matt Burke, who have each played 81 Tests.

Several others have played 50 times or more for their countries – Australian wing Joe Roff (76), French hooker Raphael Ibanez (72), French prop Christian Califano (69), Australian number eight Toutai Kefu (60), Australian flank Owen Finegan (55), Italian prop Andrea Lo Cicero (53) and French centre Thomas Castaignede (50).

Of the rest, those to have reached double figures in Test caps are New Zealand flyhalf Carlos Spencer (43), South African prop Cobus Visagie (29), English hooker Mark Regan (28), French number eight Sebastien Chabal (24) and New Zealand prop Dave Hewett (22).

A handful of players have played eight Tests or less – Xavier Rush (New Zealand, 8 ), Radike Samo (Australia, 6), Mark Robinson (NZ, 3), Cedric Debrosse (France, 2), Fraser Waters (England, 2), Bruce Reihana (NZ, 2), Isa Nacewa (Fiji, 1) and Sam Harding (NZ, 1).

The only uncapped squad members are Gloucetser flyhalf Ludovic Mercier and Bourgoin lock Julien Pierre.

“We have a very experienced group of players on tour,” said coach Bob Dwyer. “Almost half of them have played forty Tests or more. The game against the Springbok XV will be an interesting match up between players who have performed well during the European season and the form players from the Super 14,” he added.