Pool A | World ranking: 4
Springboks scrum-half Fourie du Preez
Coach: Jake White
Key players: Bryan Habana, Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez
Past record: Winners 1995; Semi-finals 1999; Quarter-finals 2003
Pool A results:
September 9: South Africa 59-7 Samoa, Paris
September 14: South Africa 36-0 England, Saint-Denis
September 22: South Africa 30-25 Tonga, Lens
September 30: South Africa 64-15 United States, Montpellier
October 7: South Africa 37-20 Fiji, Marseille
October 14: South Africa 37-13 Argentina, Saint-Denis
October 20: v England, Saint-Denis 2100 (1900 GMT)
South Africa have emerged as the most likely contenders for New Zealand, despite finishing bottom of the Tri-Nations this year.
The Springboks beat Australia at home and suffered a last-gasp 26-21 defeat by the All Blacks in Durban before coach Jake White decided to send a largely second-string squad for the away fixtures.
The 1995 champions again have a formidable forward pack, with huge props props CJ van der Linde and Os du Randt, lineout specialist Victor Matfield and the hard-working flanker Schalk Burger.
However, skipper John Smit has been struggling with a hamstring problem and has not played since June.
Butch James lacks attacking nous, and may be exposed at times, while the undoubtedly talented Percy Montgomery can be somewhat inconsistent at full-back.
South Africa will be battling with England to take top spot in Group A, with the winner likely to face Wales in the quarter-finals and the runner-up to play Australia. E-mail to a friend
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