International Rugby, Opinions, Springboks

My final Springbok and World #DreamTeam squads of 23

Gary Teichmann starts at No 8 and captains my #Springboks #DreamTeam XV. England and British & Irish Lions lock Martin Johnson starts at No 4 and captains my #World XV. But which Super Subs complement the respective starting XVs?

For purposes of my selections, I have gone with a starting XV for each side and an eight-strong reserves bench that is a unit in itself.

I haven’t picked the player I would have necessarily ranked as the next best in each position. I have looked at the impact each player would make when introduced as a substitute, each player’s versatility and the damage they could do against tired legs, fatigued minds and a fractured defence in the last 30 minutes of a match. Each player also has the quality and capacity to be introduced within a minute of kick-off. Whether they start or are used as impact players, they’d be equally good.

With the Springboks subs bench, I have borrowed from 2019 World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus and picked six forwards and two backs. South Africa has the versatility in players to make this possible. I felt the World XV I selected would be strongest with a traditional five forwards and three backs split.

Here goes:


  1. Schalk Brits is my hooker. His explosiveness is unrivalled among Springbok hookers and he just shades Malcolm Marx.
  2. Tendai Mtawarira edges Steve Kitshoff as my loosehead specialist. Both could easily be starting options, but for the name Os du Randt. Both offer huge impact as ball runners as well as a powerful set piece game.
  3. CJ van der Linde provides cover at tighthead and loosehead prop and he could even scrum at hooker if needed. He is also a very explosive ball runner.
  4. Danie Rossouw is comfortable to slot in at No 4 & No 5 lock, blindside flank and No 8.
  5. Pieter-Steph du Toit is my option playing No 5 lock and blindside flank. He could also cover No 4 lock.
  6. This was my toughest Super Sub selection. I wanted to include another loose-forward, who could either also slot into the tight five or be a wing option because of pace. My options were Pierre Spies (6, 7, 8 and also wing), Juan Smith (6,7,8 and lock), Bob Skinstad (7, 8 and midfield) and Joe van Niekerk (6, 7,8 and wing). All four players were outstanding in their international careers and all four were regular starting options. I have gone with Joe van Niekerk, whose raw energy, skill set and explosiveness just shades the other three.
  7. Ruan Pienaar’s brilliance in nearly every position allows for a six forward and two backs split. Pienaar is a specialist scrumhalf, who has also played Test rugby at No 10 and No 15. He also has played on the wing. Pienaar also provides goalkicking cover.
  8. Frans Steyn’s versatility is the equal of Pienaar. So is his quality. Steyn made his Test debut on the wing and has played fullback, flyhalf and in the midfield during his international career. He is also a goalkicking option.

My Springboks #Dream23 consists of 17 World Cup winners, with Du Randt and Steyn two-time champions.

My #Dream 23 selection includes two 1995 World Cup winners, four 2019 World Cup winners and 13 2007 World Cup winners. Du Randt and Steyn double up.

Mark Keohane’s Springboks #DreamTeam 23 (click on the name to be taken to the individual match ups)

*15. Percy Montgomery (102 Tests, 2007 World Cup winner & 1999 World Cup bronze)

*14. JP Pietersen (70 Tests, 2007 World Cup winner & 2015 World Cup bronze)

*13. Japie Mulder (34 Tests, 1995 World Cup winner)

12. Pieter Muller (33 Tests)

*11. Bryan Habana (124 Tests, 2007 World Cup winner & 2015 World Cup bronze)

10. Henry Honiball (35 Tests)

*9. Fourie du Preez (76 Tests, 2007 World Cup winner & 2015 World Cup bronze)

8. Gary Teichmann (42 Tests, captain)

*7. Schalk Burger (86 Tests, 2007 World Cup winner & 2015 World Cup bronze)

6. Andre Venter (66 Tests)

*5. Victor Matfield (127 Tests, 2007 World Cup winner & 2015 World Cup bronze)

*4. Bakkies Botha (85 Tests, 2007 World Cup winner)

3. Adrian Garvey (38 Tests)

*2. Bismarck du Plessis (79 Tests, 2007 World Cup winner & 2015 World Cup bronze)

**1. Os du Randt (80 Tests, 1995 & 2007 World Cup winner & 1999 World Cup bronze)

Super Subs bench

*16. Schalk Brits (15 Tests, Hooker, No 8): 2019 World Cup winner

*17. Tendai Mtawarira (117 Tests, Loosehead prop): 2019 World Cup winner & 2015 World Cup bronze

*18. CJ van der Linde (75 Tests, Loosehead & Tighthead prop): 2007 World Cup winner

*19. Danie Rossouw (63 Tests, No 4 & 5 lock, Blindside Loose-forward & No 8) 2007 World Cup winner

*20. Pieter-Stef du Toit (55 Tests, No 4 & No 5 lock, Blindside Loose-forward) 2019 World Cup winner

21. Joe van Niekerk (52 Tests, No 6 & No 7 Loose-forward, No 8 & Right & Left wing)

*22. Ruan Pienaar (88 Tests, No 9, 10, 11, 14 & 15 and goalkicker): 2007 World Cup winner & 2015 World Cup bronze

**23. Frans Steyn (67 Tests, No 10, 12, 13, 15 and goalkicker): 2007 & 2019 World Cup winner

Please note:

*World Cup winners

**Two-time World Cup winners

When it comes to my #DreamTeam World XV, I have five New Zealanders, two English, two French, two Irish and one from Wales, Fiji, Italy and Australia, while the match 23 has nine Kiwis, four Irishmen, three French, two English and one player from Wales, Fiji, Italy, Australia and Samoa respectively.

Mark Keohane’s World #DreamTeam23 (click on Springbok players’ names to see individual match ups)

15. Christian Cullen (NZ, 58 Tests)

14. Rupeni Caucaunibuca (Fiji, 8 Tests)

13. Scott Gibbs (Wales/British & Irish Lions, 58 Tests)

** 12. Sonny Bill Williams (NZ, 58 Tests)

11. Jonah Lomu (NZ, 64 Tests)

** 10. Dan Carter (NZ, 112 Tests)

9. Conor Murray (Ireland, 86 Tests)

8. Sergio Parissi (Italy, 142 Tests)

** 7. Richie McCaw (NZ, 148 Tests)

6. Thierry Dusautoir (France, 80 Tests)

**5. John Eales (Aus, 86 Tests)

*4. Martin Johnson (Eng/British & Irish Lions, 92 Tests)

3. Pieter de Villiers (France, 69 Tests)

2. Keith Wood (Ireland/British & Irish Lions, 63 Tests)

*1. Jason Leonard (Eng/British & Irish Lions, 119 Tests)

Super Sub bench:

**16. Keven Mealamu (NZL, 132 Tests, who covers hooker)

17. Cian Healey (Ireland, 98 Tests, who covers loosehead prop)

18. Census Johnston (Samoa/Pacific Islands, 60 Tests, who covers tighthead prop)

*19. Brodie Retallick (NZL, 81 Tests, who covers lock)

*20. Zinzan Brooke (NZ, 58 Tests, who covers 6,7 & 8)

21. Fabian Galthie (France, 64 Tests, who covers No 9)

22. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland/British & Irish Lions, 141 Tests, who covers 12 &13)

*23. Beauden Barrett (NZ, 83 Tests, who covers 10, 12, 11,14 & 15 and the goalkicking.

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8 thoughts on “My final Springbok and World #DreamTeam squads of 23

  1. cab says:

    Yep, many of these selections good, but in my/your lifetime you’ve left out some monsters that would have been legends of the game .

    3. Frans Erasmus (Cobus) Visagie – monster THs. Frans drilled NZ cavaliers.

    6. Brussow untouchable, Schalk at 8. There’s never been a more prolific fetcher.

    9. Joost for me, but FdP also great.
    12. Michael Du Plessis
    13. Danie Gerber (Jacques Fourie)
    14. Carel du Plessis (nothing too touch him)
    15. The rolls jubba.

    Os a legend, most mobile LH ever, but in terms of test matches, and drilling others in the scrum in key tests – you got to give it to the Beast. Destroyed England in the RWC ‘19 final, the BIL 2009 and the ABs hammering in 2009.

    Dalton up their with Bismarck. Huge presence for Boks. Never understood why he, Honiball and alberts were not the first names down in their era – boks results would’ve been better.

    1. Keo says:

      I dedicate 3000 plus words to each position from the first Test I reported on in 1992 up and until the 2019 World Cup final. Many of those names are discussed in details. I only considered players I have covered as a rugby writer from 92.

  2. Kelvin Abrahams says:

    Hey Mark, given some of our differences in starting XV’s I’ll comment purely on your chosen lineups. Great selections regardless of my preferences.

    For Boks, that is a well rounded bench. Brits is perfect for tired legs. I’d be partial to Kitsie (he’ll be spoken about as one of the very best when he hangs his boots up) because he would be a “beast” (pun intended) in the scrums and definitely put in some menacing hits. I have a similar opinion of Koch.

    Danie Rossouw earns his spot and PSDT has such a big engine and appetite that he could single handedly get the Boks back into the game or seal the deal. Depending on the status of the game. I loved Big Joe and didn’t value Spies as I should have but perhaps Spies gets the nod for me given his age group exploits as a winger.

    Given your bench split, Ruan and Francois are the right choices.

    My split however would be the conventional split of 5/3 as I cannot resist the impact of a wiley and mongrel-like fetcher along with a real game changer of a utility back…
    16. Brits
    17. Kitshoff
    18. Koch (although I respect the call for CJ)
    19. PSDT
    20. Flo or Brussouw, take your pick. Flo for though
    21. Pienaar (his versatility cannot be ignored)
    22. F. Steyn (similar to Pienaar but his understanding of big moments and 2 WC wins makes be believe he’ll have the desired impact always)
    23. Kolbe or Aplon – tired legs, broken play and a helter skelter feel to the game are aspects these guys thrive on and will make he opposition weak at the knees.

    International XV’s bench… Bang on Sir. Can you imagine a fit and fierce Trevor Leota coming on at hooker? That being said I’d put my life in the hands of Kevin Mealamu. The man who’s ears belong to the citizens of NZ 😉 At 9 I’d be tempted to play Matt Dawson or Aaron Smith. They bring high energy and guile. Galthie still a great choice that I won’t argue with. Just enjoying playing devil’s advocate… Let’s hope Brooke, O Driscoll and Beaudi never have to take the field! Can you imagine the faces of some the guys when their numbers come up and you see them rolling their hips and stretching their hammies.

    If only we could watch this game!!

  3. jacques says:

    I would have gone with Juan over Joe. Joe and Bobby were the same kind of player. Juan just as mobile with a lot more grunt.. He did his job and added the physicality. Spies i liked as a human being but always felt he was a bid overrated as a rugby player. When the was loose he shined, when it got tough he sort of disappeared.

    The rest of your bench seems just about right. Amazing to think that in 2 players you can cover the entire backline. Says a lot about the abilities of those 2 players. Ruan in particular was never really rated by SA fans but luckily, he got all the recognition playing up north.

    1. Kelvin Abrahams says:

      I had that same feeling towards Spies but if you have Pieter-Steph and Danie Rossouw on the bench you don’t need Spies grunting and grinding. You need him running holes in the defense and being disruptive. Mark may be right with Big Joe. He’s able to do it all isn’t he.

      I probably didn’t appreciate Ruan Pienaar because he played multiple positions. His run at 10 and 15 is most likely what got to me. He was smart no.9 and could then cover the rest of the positions as the game went on of need be.

    2. Keo says:

      Hey Jacques, you wouldn’t get too many arguments with your selections.

      Just the coaches, two referees and a SA and international ground of my choice to go.

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