It’s no surprise Erasmus picked a match-day squad that is predictable and familiar – to the fans and to the players.
RASSIE Erasmus was never going to tinker with his team at this stage of the Rugby World Cup.
Erasmus knew months ago who his first-choice players would be and the players knew the pecking order. It’s no surprise Erasmus picked a match-day squad that is predictable and familiar – to the fans and to the players.
This is knockout rugby and where the title is won and lost. The Boks, with two different teams, playing against different opposition, have reached the quarter-finals where they will face hosts Japan in Tokyo on Sunday, but from here on in it’s going to be Erasmus’ first-choice side that’s going to be called upon to do the business.
The right call
Two players who probably weren’t in the first-choice team when the Boks arrived in Japan weeks ago – lock Lood de Jager and Bongi Mbonambi – have been picked for the quarter-final at the expense of Franco Mostert and Malcolm Marx, and on current form, it is the right call by the Boks boss.
De Jager and Mbonambi have outplayed Mostert and Marx and deserve their starting places. Mostert and Marx, coming off the bench later on, will be expected to make a big impact.
Erasmus will hope his senior men come good in Tokyo.
Willie le Roux is one such player. The full-back has brought none of the attacking spark he’s known for. He needs to get into the game and fulfil the role of additional flyhalf-attacker, in the mould of All Blacks’ Beauden Barrett, who has shifted to 15, with Richie Mo’unga at 10.
Handré Pollard is also still searching for his best form, but talk of dropping him for Elton Jantjies, or playing the two of them next to each other, was never going to happen at this stage. Erasmus is hopeful his number one No 10 will deliver now.
Captain Siya Kolisi will be out to hit top form. He only just made the squad after recovering from a knee problem and while Erasmus has pushed him to get minutes and game-time, the Bok leader has yet to hit top gear. Hopefully he, too, can fire when it matters.
In all, Erasmus has picked a Bok team with few weaknesses, and a team fans can, and should, be grateful for. It is a settled side with everyone knowing their role and every individual being familiar with the man on his inside and outside.
If every player performs to standard and executes the way they’re supposed to they should come out on top after 80 minutes. Man for man this Bok team trumps the Japanese side.
Springboks (15-1): Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira.
Bench: Malcolm Marx, Vincent Koch, Steven Kitshoff, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn