Erasmus has repeatedly highlighted the importance of expanding the team’s flyhalf depth to ensure they have more than one option in this crucial position
The surprise picks made at flyhalf by the Springboks, Wallabies and All Blacks serve as a clear indicator of the World Cup planning that is well under way.
To focus first on the Springboks, Elton Jantjies will start at flyhalf ahead of Handré Pollard for this Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash in Brisbane.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has repeatedly highlighted the importance of expanding the team’s flyhalf depth to ensure they have more than one option in this crucial position when they head to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Although Pollard has battled with form and confidence in the two recent Tests against Argentina, Erasmus explained yesterday that the plan had always been for Jantjies to receive an opportunity against the Wallabies.
While there is certainly an element of experimentation to the Boks’ selection, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has also made a bold move by opting to shift regular inside centre Kurtley Beale into the flyhalf berth.
Bernard Foley has been the automatic selection for some time, but he hasn’t been in his best form recently, with Cheika now seeing the need to see what other options are available.
Similarly, the All Blacks have now taken the opportunity to afford first-choice flyhalf Beauden Barrett a rest, and to hand Crusaders pivot Richie Mo’unga his first start in tomorrow’s encounter against Argentina.
Although Damian McKenzie has been widely recognised as the back-up to Barrett, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen clearly wants to have a closer look at Mo’unga, who enjoyed a stand-out Super Rugby season this year.
The World Cup is just over a year away, and the onus now falls on the likes of Jantjies, Beale and Mo’unga to prove that they have what it takes to slot in at flyhalf should the need arise at that global showpiece.