Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made up for time lost during the hiatus from Test rugby by bleeding in some new talent during the home international season, but it is when South Africans look at what is beyond the current squad that they get really optimistic about what the build-up to the 2023 World Cup could bring.

The arrival of Jasper Wiese and Ox Nche as viable alternatives to Duane Vermeulen and Beast Mtawarira respectively were the most obvious strikes in the cause of progress during the series against the British & Irish Lions where Nienaber was forced by circumstances to go largely with the group that brought success in the 2019 World Cup. The lack of top rugby in the interim just made it impossible to go any other route...

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