Players need to justify Bok selection
REACTION: Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus has pin-pointed different reasons why he selected this specific team to face Australia in the Rugby Championship opener in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Erasmus revealed the Springboks team for the Highveld clash on Wednesday. The side, that will be captained by lock Eben Etzebeth, features three debutants and a number of foreign-based players.
Rynhardt Elstadt (loose forward) and Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) are two of the debutants that will start, while Lizo Gqoboka is to earn a cap when he takes to the field from the bench.
The uncapped players along with Erasmus’ foreign-based players do have very impressive CVs. However, the coach has made it clear that the players will need to justify their selections and prove that they are good enough to play for the Springboks, especially with the World Cup just months away.
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Elstadt is picked at No.6 flank in a loose trio that also includes the experienced duo of Pieter-Steph du Toit (No. 7, 46 caps) and No 8 Francois Louw (65 caps).
The 29-year-old, who won the Top14 with Toulouse in 2019, certainly has enjoyed a tremendous season. The loose forward’s tackling stats (89 percent success rate) speaks volumes of his prowess. But whether he has the pedigree to play Test-match rugby is yet to be seen.
“Elstadt played at the highest level in Top 14 and won a final – which is a pretty tough league but again this is Test-match rugby and he will have to make the step up,” Erasmus told reporters at the team announcement in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“It’s one thing to do well for your club or franchise – it’s quite another playing Test rugby.
“I coached him before when we were both at the Stormers so we understand each other, which is a benefit, but this is a very good Wallabies team we’re coming up against.”
Commenting on fellow debutant Jantjies’ inclusion, along with Northampton Saints based Cobus Reinach’s selection on the bench, Erasmus said: “Herschel and Cobus knocked down the door by just the way they played in Super Rugby and the Premiership, respectably.
“Jantjies, when he faced some of the best guys in Super Rugby, he stood his ground and had some wonderful games” Erasmus added.
Prop Lizo Gqoboka is another exciting prospect and Wold Cup hopeful who can propel himself into the team when he takes to the field from the bench.
“Lizo started every game for the Bulls and performed consistently well throughout the Super Rugby competition. He has a good engine on him, he is extremely strong and I’m excited to see what he can do at Test-match level,” said Erasmus.
Meanwhile, another name on the bench and certainly a very familiar face is Frans Steyn.
The Montpellier utility back, who last played for the Boks in 2017, adds versatility and experience to the team. The coach revealed that he would consider him at inside centre first but just like his teammates he needs to prove himself again at Test level.
“Inside centre is probably the best position for him. He is good at ten (flyhalf) and 15 (fullback) and he does give you that versatility and experience.
“Steyn brings calm and leadership to the group but still needs to prove himself – Test rugby is a step up from the Top14,” Erasmus added.