South Africa have picked up some crucial injuries but may have stumbled across their best team as a result

Injuries are occurring at a far greater rate than the last World Cup but in the case of South Africa, they might have a silver lining.

It was of course a terrible shame to see Jean de Villiers ruled out of the tournament with a broken jaw, calling time on a great international career and a desperately unlucky World Cup record.

Returning home: De Villiers' World Cup is over. Photo: Getty Images

Returning home: De Villiers’ World Cup is over. Photo: Getty Images

And the Boks have also lost their vice-captain Victor Matfield for Saturday’s crucial game against Scotland in Newcastle.

However those absences mean that Heyneke Meyer has been forced to turn to two in-form combinations in the second row and the centres.

Lood de Jager was a long shot to even make the World Cup after an injury-disrupted Super Rugby season, but with the Springbok second row options equally hard hit, he got his chance during the Rugby Championship.

Arguably the Boks’ standout player during what was admittedly a below-par tournament for them, de Jager did enough to earn a spot as the third lock for the World Cup.

On fire: Lood de Jager is in outstanding form. Photo: Getty Images

On fire: Lood de Jager is in outstanding form. Photo: Getty Images

With Eben Etzebeth left on the bench for the opening game of the tournament against Japan, de Jager again shone, with one fantastic individual try and some powerful carrying.

It seemed very harsh therefore, when he was dropped for the game against Samoa, even if Matfield and Etzebeth performed admirably.

With Matfield now out, de Jager comes back in, and he and Etzebeth have the potential to challenge New Zealand for the best young lock pairing in the world.

The Rugby Championship was also where the centre partnership of Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel got their first shot together.

De Allende was the pick of the South African centres in Super Rugby for the Stormers, and carried that form onto the Test stage.

Kriel, meanwhile, impressed at full-back for the Bulls, and slotted in seamlessly at outside centre on the Test stage.

While they looked very good together, the return of skipper de Villiers from injury posed a selection headache for Meyer, who first tried his captain and Kriel together against Japan.

After one communication error played a key part in Ayumu Goromaru’s second-half try, Meyer paired up de Villiers and de Allende in the second game against Samoa, to great effect.

Decisions: Heyneke Meyer is under pressure. Photo: Getty Images

Decisions: Heyneke Meyer is under pressure. Photo: Getty Images

Now with de Villiers’ tournament over, the young duo will reunite, and could form the Springboks’ most potent midfield.

Scotland would appear to be the unlucky victims of South Africa’s best team coming together more by luck than chance.

Add in the recall for Willie le Roux, and this Springbok team could yet be the first team to lose a group game and become world champions.

Springbok XV: Willie le Roux; JP Pietersen, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana; Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez (c); Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis; Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager; Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen

Reps: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein