File: South African president Nelson Mandela, dressed in a No 6 Springbok jersey, congratulates the Springbok captain Francois Pienaar after South Africa beat the All Blacks by 15-12 to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
JOHANNESBURG - Siya Kolisi dreams of becoming the first black Springboks skipper to lift the Rugby World Cup trophy, and complete the remarkable transformation of the team from "a dark place to a good space".
South Africa and defending champions New Zealand, who clash on September 21 in a blockbuster Pool B opener in Japan, look set to reach the quarter-finals at the expense of Italy, Canada and Namibia.
"If we are lucky and avoid injuries, we should go far," says coach Rassie Erasmus without publicly setting a target for a nation that have been champions twice.
Flanker Kolisi is "excited and nervous" ahead of the World Cup, adding: "I get wonderful support and advice from my team-mates and there is no reason to fear anyone."
South Africa became a laughing stock of world rugby two years ago after a 57-0 thrashing away to arch-rivals New Zealand, the heaviest loss suffered by the green and gold in their 128-year history.
Officials reacted to the humiliation by firing coach Allister Coetzee early last year and hiring Erasmus, a former Springboks flanker.
Population: 58.5 million
Capitals: Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative), Pretoria (executive)
Coach: Rassie Erasmus (RSA/since 2018)
Registered players: 650,000
World Rugby ranking: 5 (2 September 2019)
World Cup past record:
1987 Did not compete because of apartheid-induced ban
1991 Did not compete because of apartheid-induced ban
1999 Third place
2015 Third place
Pool matches (all times GMT):
South Africa v New Zealand, September 21 (0945), Yokohama; South Africa v Namibia, September 28 (0945 ), Toyota City; South Africa v Italy, October 4 (0945), Fukuroi; South Africa v Canada, October 8 (1015), Kobe
Backs: Warrick Gelant (Bulls), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), Sibusiso Nkosi (Sharks), Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Francois Steyn (Montpellier), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Handre Pollard (Bulls), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints)
Forwards: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Schalk Brits (Bulls), Malcolm Marx (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Lood de Jager (Bulls), Franco Mostert (Gloucester), RG Snyman (Bulls), Siya Kolisi (Stormers, capt), Francois Louw (Bath), Kwagga Smith (Lions), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
Player to watch: Pieter-Steph du Toit is one of the best blindside flankers in the world and can also operate as a lock
Aim for the tournament: "If we are lucky and avoid injuries, we should go far" - coach Rassie Erasmus.