Chester Williams – “The critic assassin” 1995 – South Africa
He wasn’t even picked for the World Cup squad and few had faith in his ability. Many a critic have admitted to being unsure about Chester’s ability before his industrious performance during the World Cup but later warmed up to him when they saw he could deliver. An injury to Peter Hendricks meant that Chester had his big break. He went on to be one of the Springbok heroes of all time and his try-saving tackle – with James Small – on Jonah Lomu will be remembered for eternity.
Jannie de Beer – “Make Naas Botha proud” 1999- England
With a year to go before the big showpiece in England, no one knew which country de Beer was going to play for – South Africa or Scotland. He had signed a contract with London Scottish and many saw that as a Bok snub. With only 8 Springbok caps to his name he was somewhat of a saviour in the flyhalf position. He grabbed his opportunity by the nuts and dropkicked the hosts England into resentment and out of the World Cup at the quarterfinal stage. De Beer accumulated the third-most points of the tournament, 97. He was composed for most of the tournament even when exchanging dropkicks with Stephen Larkham of Australian in the semi-final. We know who eventually won that contest.
Francois Steyn – “Birth of the X-factor Springbok” 2007 – France
An injury to Jean de Villiers days before the start of the tournament meant that opportunity had come knocking at the 19 year-old’s door. He had the X-factor and could play anywhere in the backline. He could side-step, punt a distance and drop-kick a long way too. Steyn’s performance – and incredible demonstration of maturity – could have paved way for other young players to earn a wild-card place in the World Cup in New Zealand starting in September (i.e. Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo).