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VIDEO: Dramatic change in Bok hooker pecking order

VIDEO: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has revealed a dramatic change in the pecking order amongst the national team’s hookers.

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Erasmus, addressing a media briefing, explained which hooker is ready to step into the boots of Bongi Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx as the Boks start building towards the next World Cup.

The Bulls reached the United Rugby Championship Final, the Stormers went to the quarterfinals and a host of their players certainly put up their hands for national selection.

This week Erasmus stated that Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar, based on his performances in the URC, is now the third-choice No.2 for the Springboks.

During the World Cup, when Marx got injured, the Springboks had one recognized hooker in Mbonambi – with utility forwards Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden the backup players.

Joseph Dweba is in the backup/standby squad ahead of the two-Test series against Ireland.

It makes Erasmus’ statement about the Bulls hooker, Grobbelaar, significant.

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“We’ve had Joseph Dweba in the system now for four weeks, and before the World Cup he was involved in the alignment camps and normal camps,” Erasmus said.

“We now had Andre-Hugo Venter involved on tour, on a match day, in a warm-up, an alignment camp, on a training week and a match week and travelling.

“He now knows how that works.

“[Johan] Grobbelaar is one of the stand-out hookers.

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“I don’t think anyone can argue about that.

“The Bulls went the deepest into the competition and their line-outs were good.

“Grobbies improved a hell of a lot and it is a straightforward third choice at this stage for us,” the coach added.

(The article continues below the Erasmus interview …)

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Eyebrows were raised with the inclusion of Jan-Hendrik Wessels purely because he didn’t feature much this season.

However, versatile players are important to Erasmus, and it is, presumably, his ability to play both hooker and prop that got Wessels his call-up.

“Jan-Hendrik Wessels was one [player] that we earmarked for our EPD [Elite Player Development] system since he started,” the coach said.

“He was always a loosehead [prop]. He played loosehead with Andre-Hugo Venter at Grey [College].

“The nice thing about Jan-Hendrik is he is [now] covering No.1 and No.2.

“It is not to say Andre-Hugo Venter can’t grab that No.2 jersey.

“It’s not to say that Bongi is definitely going to make the next World Cup.

“It’s not to say Malcolm’s knee won’t pack up again.

“There are guys that we have put time and effort into through our EPD systems, not just financially but IP wise – in the Under-20 system under Bafana Nhleko and Louis Koen, our performance manager,” Erasmus added.

“Sometimes I can understand that people are upset about Elrigh [Louw], Siya Masuku, Ruben [van Heerden] and Wilco Louw].

“However, all of these boys, hopefully, if things go well against Ireland, can play against Portugal.

“This is a group.

“So we can always swap somebody if someone has a niggle or is not doing well.

“I do think our depth is healthy.

“Last year we had one flyhalf at the World Cup. Now there are five guys that we can put there,” Erasmus concluded.

@rugby365com

 

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