VIDEO: Rassie clears up his transformation 'targets'
WATCH as Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus talks about his transformation targets for the World Cup and his squad selection.
Erasmus, at his first media briefing for 2019, was adamant that South Africa has a big enough pool of non-white players to ensure he reaches his target of 50 percent when they arrive in Japan for the World Cup in September.
With about 80 percent of his squad settled, there is some ‘wriggle room’ for Erasmus – should there be injuries or dramatic changes in form.
Erasmus said last year his goals were winning against quality opposition (like New Zealand), to work on transformation, build some squad depth and get some experience in the squad.
“This year, there is only one strategic goal: The World Cup,” said Erasmus, who also doubles up as the Director of Rugby for the South African Rugby Union.
He said the desire to win the Rugby Championship means they will select their best available teams for the SANZAAR championship.
Erasmus suggested there may be some experimenting for the second Test against Argentina, which does not form part of the Rugby Championship.
The pre-World Cup warm-up against hosts Japan will be the Springboks’ dress rehearsal for the opening match against New Zealand in Yokohama on September 21.
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“I’d say about 80 percent of the squad is settled,” Erasmus said.
However, he added that – as Frans Steyn did in 2007 – there could be an injury and that could open the door for another player.
Erasmus admitted injuries will always play a role in the final squad selection.
Transformation remains a high priority.
“We did better in transformation last year,” he said, adding that even though they fell short of the required 45 percent there are “many positives” around this emotive subject.
“[That target of] 50 [percent] is an average of players playing over the year for us, in terms of our matchday 23,” the coach said.
“In selecting a World Cup squad, it is not to say half must be players of colour.
“It is the average of players in your matchday 23.
“I believe with the exposure we gave to players last year, we will be able to get to that [target].”
He said people should not have an expectation of 15 or 16 players of colour in the World Cup squad of 31.
“We might pick 13, or 12, or 17 – it will depend on form and how players are. The average of the matchday 23 is for the entire year.
“That is why we blooded some players slower than others, because we knew this year we would have a bigger pool to select from.
“We might, if we have a few injuries, have a challenge, but I think with the pool of players we have we can get to that target [of 50 percent].”
There are just five Test matches remaining for the Boks before their World Cup opener against the All Blacks.
A shortened Rugby Championship sees the Boks play Australia, New Zealand and Argentina over July and August, while there is also a one-off Test against Argentina the week after the Championship ends.
The only possible window for experimentation was likely to be that one-off Test against Los Pumas at Loftus Versfeld on August 17.
By Jan de Koning