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Squad is taking shape

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“We rested 18 players, and I know people don’t like manoeuvring around of Springbok teams for Test matches”

SPRINGBOK wing Sbu Nkosi runs in to score a try during the Rugby World Cup warm-up match between South Africa and Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday night.

Rassie Erasmus still has to mull over the selection of “four or five” players, but the Springbok mentor has an otherwise good idea about his final Rugby World Cup squad.

The Springboks had to grind out a 24-18 victory over Argentina at Loftus Versfeld providing them with positive momentum before their departure for Japan on August 30.

“There are about four or five guys you need to make sure about and things like the combinations among the loose forwards and whether you are taking three or four centres, two utility backs or two specialist fullbacks,” Erasmus said. “Those are the decisions we will have to make over the next three days.”

Quilted together following their successful Rugby Championship campaign, the Springboks battled to find their rhythm against Los Pumas in Pretoria.

Bok flyer Sbu Nkosi provided some sparkle to an otherwise dull affair scoring a stunning brace of tries, one in each half, while pivot Elton Jantjies contributed with the boot with four penalty goals and a conversion.

“We rested 18 players, and I know people don’t like manoeuvring around of Springbok teams for Test matches,” Erasmus said.

“If we lost this one, I know I would have sat here and be gutted, and people would get into me,” he acknowledged.

With the Rugby World Cup squad announcement looming there was a real threat of fringe players trying to make a final impression on the Springbok selectors.

Erasmus and some of the players themselves downplayed this as a factor, but the Bok coach admitted it might have played a role in their stuttering performance against Los Pumas.

Headache

“The biggest headache at this stage is selecting 31 players, I know today wasn’t a great performance, but it was gutsy,” Erasmus said.

“It was guys that were nervous and who fought to get into the World Cup squad.

“Some did not have great games, but they tried hard.”

A group of 37 players will assemble in Bloemfontein over the next week where Erasmus will decide who the 31 players will be that will represent the country at the global showpiece.

Erasmus said the hard-fought victory over Argentina might not have been the polished performance they had hoped for, but it provided answers to some of the selection questions he had before the game.

“We said during the week that it would be won and lost in the trenches and I think it is exactly how it panned out,” Erasmus said straight after the game.

“There were some players where I had to get confirmation and somewhere I had some doubt. Watching the game live, I was leaning towards some in my mind, but we will have a proper sit-down tomorrow (yesterday) and look at things going on in my head.

“We also have the selectors involved.”