Boks drop BIG selection hint
SPOTLIGHT: South Africa’s coaching staff dropped a massive selection hint ahead of the second Test against Wales in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
In what will be a moment of mass celebration for the Evan Roos fan club, the Stormers star was rolled out for a media appearance on Monday – a privilege usually reserved for players in the matchday squad.
Unless coach Jacques Nienaber was playing a ‘double bluff’ ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled team announcement, Roos is certain to feature in the matchday 23 in the second Test of the three-match series.
The Boks won 32-29 in the opening at Loftus Versfeld this past Saturday, despite an underwhelming performance.
With the 22-year-old No.8 fronting up to the media, it appears there is set to be a shakeup among the loose forwards – at the very least on the replacement bench.
Springbok forwards coach Deon Davids was not giving much away, although he did not deny Roos’ potential involvement against Wales in Bloemfontein.
“Everyone will have to wait for our official team announcement [on Tuesday] so get some new information in that regard,” Davids quipped when asked about Roos’ presence.
“But as we’ve said before, it’s definitely our plan [to test out some new players], it’s just about when we’re going to make those selections and how we go about it.”
Springbok media manager Zeena Isaacs added to the intrigue around his potential selection when she implored the press corps to ask questions of Roos, saying: “Evan, if he goes on this weekend and he is selected, he will make his debut.”
Roos himself was coy about his potential selection.
“It’s been a massive honour being part of this group, watching them [while I was] growing up – all they achieved,” he told the media scrum at the team’s hotel in Bloemfontein.
“It’s awesome working with coaches, the class of players they have here.
“It’s been quite intense, definitely a level up from the franchise game.
“There’s a lot more detail to take in, it really gives you a new perspective on matters.
“I’ve really enjoyed it.”
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Despite the bottleneck of loose forwards in the team, Roos said he is just soaking it all up.
“Everyone has a role in the squad,” the young loose forward said, adding: “Even if you are not part of the [matchday] 23, you still help them prepare for that Test on Saturday.”
He said Jasper Wiese, who started at No.8 at Loftus, Elrigh Louw, who came on as a second-half replacement, and himself get on very well.
“Competition is good, because it lifts everybody.”
As a member of the wider Baby Bok squad in 2019, he became very familiar with Louw.
Roos missed the selection cut for the final squad to the Junior World Cup, while Louw was a member of the team that lost in the semifinals to France.
He said the much-publicised rivalry with the Bulls’ loose forward, Louw, is just ‘media hype’.
“Elrigh and myself get on really well and we are good mates,” Roos said, adding: “We are exchanging advice and tips to become a better player.
“I’m just focusing on becoming a better rugby player daily.”
Roos added that he is backing the coaches’ plan for the squad, whether he gets selected or not.
“There’s 100 percent buy-in from everyone in the squad into that [selection] plan.
“If I get the opportunity, then I’m going to give my all.
“But if I don’t make the cut, then I’m here to help my teammates prepare for their outing.
“That’s why we’re here as a group.
“There’s no place for someone to put individual aspirations higher than the team’s goals.
“If you put yourself ahead of the team, you will be worked out.”
* Meanwhile former world player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit could also come into the selection mix.
Davids confirmed that Du Toit is available for the clash at Free State Stadium, after missing out on the 32-29 victory in Pretoria last Saturday due to a lack of training opportunities with the team.
The 29-year-old was the only injury concern going into the first Test at Loftus Versfeld, but has since fully recovered from shoulder surgery and is up for selection.
The Springboks travelled with 42 players to Bloemfontein, and Davids added: “We were open from the outset in saying that we have a big group of players that we are working with.
“And we have to remember that we are working with a long-term view on the Rugby World Cup next year as well.
“It is our objective to try to give everyone game-time, but it is very important to get the balance right so that we can build depth and win Test matches.”
also still ensuring that we get a good result.”