VIDEO: Louw in spotlight at Loftus cauldron
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP BUILD-UP: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus ensured veteran loose forward Francois Louw will feel the heat when South Africa host New Zealand in Pretoria on Saturday.
The selection of the 33-year-old Bath-based loose forward ahead of Sikhumbuzo Notshe was one of his choices that were questioned this week.
However, Erasmus is adamant that 61-times capped Louw will bring the value and experienced required against the world’s top team.
While the All Blacks denied this week that they have ‘revenge’ on their minds, the Boks have repeatedly stated that they expect a backlash after beating the Kiwis (36-34) in Wellington last month.
And Louw, in the absence of the injured Warren Whiteley, will play a key role in the Loftus Versfeld cauldron.
“With the respect we have for the All Blacks, experience is going to be vital in this game,” Erasmus said, when asked about Louw’s selection.
“Losing a guy like Warren [Whiteley], you lose a lot of experience,” the coach said, adding: “[Sikhumbuzo] Notshe played really well [against Australia] last week.
“He deserves to stay on the bench [for the Loftus showdown].
“The experience we need against the No.1 team in the world comes from Francois.”
The questions over Louw’s selection were raised after what appeared to be a flawed performance after coming on as a second-half replacement in Wellington.
However, Erasmus said one incident does not mean the loose forward had a bad game.
“The knock-on [fumble by Louw soon after arriving on the field] almost overshadowed the great defensive work he did in those last few minutes in our own 22-metre area,” the coach said of the 10 tackles Louw made .in his 15-minute cameo – after replacing captain Siyamthanda Kolisi late in the second half.
“[His] experience definitely gave him the nod,” he said of the No.8.
Erasmus also revealed that Whiteley is likely to get a run in the Currie Cup after recovering from a groin injury and should be ready for the year-end tour.
The Bok coach said “experience” also played a role when he opted for Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende as his midfield combinations – with De Allende starting ahead of Andre Esterhuizen.
“They [Kriel and De Allende] are our most experienced centre combination currently available.
“Andre [Esterhuizen] has been given opportunities when Damian was not available.
“Damian is experienced – he has played against the big boys,” Erasmus said, adding that they need De Allende’s experience against the best team in the world.