VIDEO: 'Tactical' Boks put seven-one split back on the table
The Springboks are playing mind games with their rivals and are making no attempt to hide it.
South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said the decision to delay the team announcement ahead of Sunday’s World Cup quarterfinal encounter with hosts France is ‘definitely’ a tactical decision.
Erasmus admitted they have basically made up their minds, but would like to keep their options open for possible late changes.
It is a far cry from their usual modus operandi, where they name the team as early in the week as possible – resulting in coach Jacques Nienaber having to make two media appearances a week at the global showcase.
His first appearance was to name the team early in the week and the second fronting up with captain Siya Kolisi at the ‘team announcement’ presser a couple of days ahead of the match even though the matchday selection had already been revealed.
“We have been mixing and matching for the last year and making sure almost in every single position that we can have someone just as good, in some cases we are not even sure who is the best,” Erasmus said, when asked about the drastic change of routine.
“We are keeping our options open for [the possibility of] a seven-one, a six-two or a five-three [split on the bench in favour of the forwards],” he added.
“With Handre [Pollard] and Manie [Libbok both] being available, there is nobody that sits with an injury.
“[Even] Lukhanyo [Am] is fully fit.
“We sort of have made up our mind, but we are [still] quite in between at this stage.”
He said the team were named internally, to the players, on Wednesday, but will keep the French guessing till Friday.
“I think having everybody available and seeing what the French team look like, that may have an influence on us going seven-one or a six-two.”
The SARU boss gave the team a clean bill of health and said all 33 players are in the selection fare.
“I think it would be a difficult situation if we only had two nines and one is injured,” he said.
“We don’t have any injuries currently, everyone is fit.
“We can pick from Lukhanyo right through to Vincent Koch, everyone is available.
“We are very fortunate and that is why we haven’t quite decided seven-one, six-two.
“It’s tough to announce the team.
“This group of players are the right bunch of players that are here.
“At the end of the day we are all going to lift the trophy. Not just as 33 players, but with 22 management that’s 55 people.
“After we internally sort out everything, players just accept even if we picked the team and we make a mistake here or there.
“I know South Africans are having a lot of opinions which is great, I don’t think they were in 2017 or 2016. I think they were burning flags and now they are picking teams and they are worried about us and we love that.
“We enjoy the position we are currently in.”