Home Sport Rugby Boks can’t afford any hiccups, says Rassie

Boks can’t afford any hiccups, says Rassie

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Erasmus will only field his front-runners in the big games.

Rassie Erasmus. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu | BackpagePix

Wanted, seasoned campaigners who can anchor the Springbok side against the so-called minnows during their pool matches at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Bok coach Rassie Erasmus on Wednesday admitted he was looking at old heads like Frans Steyn when he rests some of the first-choice players during their campaign. The Boks kick off the World Cup against defending champions New Zealand followed by matches against Namibia, Italy and Canada.

Erasmus said the plan was to field his front-runners in the matches against New Zealand and Italy, but would not make the mistake of underestimating Namibia and Canada.

The shock 34-32 defeat to Japan at the 2015 Rugby World Cup was a constant reminder of the dangers of underestimating the so-called smaller teams.

“So every two games we will probably play our first choice if you want to call it that,” Erasmus said.

“But you can’t disrespect the guys in the other games, so you still need some seniority to step up without having a hiccup as we did against Japan.”

The Bok coach said they drafted players into the squad that could step into multiple positions providing him with more options when he makes his selections for the different games.

Among the forwards, he has someone like a Pieter-Steph du Toit who is equally adept at the side of the scrum as he is packing down in the second row.

In the current group of 40 players in camp in Pretoria, he has a host of versatile backline players.

Erasmus rattled off names like Willie le Roux, Steyn, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel and Dillyn Lleyds who can slot in at more than one position.

“That is where it is so important to have some swingers in terms of covering No 10, 12, 15 who are still experienced and calm enough and doesn’t fold under pressure against the lesser-known countries,” Erasmus said.

Erasmus said the friendly against Argentina in Pretoria on August 17 would be the cut-off point for players to prove their fitness as he did not want to be taking any passengers to the World Cup.

The Boks play a warm-up match against Japan on September 6 before the start of the global showpiece.

“We are currently 39 guys in the squad, and we have four games before we go to the World Cup, that last Japanese game in Japan which is a warm-up match,” Erasmus said.

“We can’t fly a guy back after that game; the World Cup squad will play that game. So we only have four games left to really test guys – the three Rugby Champs games and the last one against Argentina.”