There are very few teams with the experience of the Springbok team, but experience is effectively just a number (of caps) – where this World Cup will be won or lost is for any team, is in depth.
Following the demolition of Namibia, South Africa’s greatest strength, and greatest chance of winning the World Cup was obvious for anyone to see.
After plodding along for much of the first half scoring tries off bad Namibian mistakes and poor defense, the Boks shifted into another gear as Peter de Villiers cleared his bench with more than 20 minutes to go.
There is only one team that has the quality in depth the Springboks have, and that is New Zealand, and it will be one of these two teams who will lift the Webb Ellis at the final.
Of course your biggest strength can also be your biggest weakness, and the Springboks’ greatest challenge from the Samoan game forward will not only be who to pick in your match-day 22, but which 15 players find themselves on the field at any given time.
Peter de Villiers has a number of challenging decisions to make in a couple of key positions, starting with the front row. The John Smit v Bismarck debate will rage long after this tournament is finished whether the Boks win this thing or not, the key for De Villiers is to decide if he wants his captain to start, or blow opposition off the park from minute 1 with the power of Bismarck?
Loosehead also offers a unique challenge, both Beast and Gurthro are in great form, but the fact that we only have one specialist tighthead in Jannie du Plessis with CJ covering both positions from the bench means one of these two might just miss out.
Injuries in the lock department and Danie rising to the occasion yet again in a Rugby World Cup might also leave De Villiers scratching his head again, although Danie from the bench is probably the most logical move here.
In the loose-forward department things seem pretty set, with Heinrich, Schalk and Pierre in the driving seats with Alberts covering from the bench.
As we move to the backline things get more complicated. Fourie du Preez is not at his best, and with the explosive Francois Hougaard in great form many believe we need to find a place for Hougaard, even at the expense of Du Preez if we have to.
Of course Hougaard has had a massive impact at wing mostly, and another out of form player in Bryan Habana ahead in the pecking order also leaves a lot of people frustrated.
Has Frans Steyn now replaced Jean de Villiers as the inside centre of choice? And will young Pat be able to handle the pressure of the really big games in a vital position like fullback?
Given the impact Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh had in the Namibian game, some might even believe a match-day 22 place has to be found for them.
With the quarter finals fast approaching and most Boks returning to full fitness, Peter de Villiers will be under immense pressure to get his selections right.
The Boks certainly have the goods through all 30 players currently in New Zealand; The only question left is whether they can maximize this advantage?