Boks leave their 'water boy' behind
INSIDE THE BOK CAMP: South Africa’s most famous water boy will not accompany the national team on the next leg of the Rugby Championship.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber confirmed that said SA’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus would not accompany the team to Australia on Thursday.
Erasmus, who caused a stir with his role as ‘water boy’ during the British and Irish Lions tour, is facing a World Rugby hearing over his comments in a leaked video.
While the date for the hearing has not been confirmed – with World Rugby still awaiting ‘all submissions to me made’ – Erasmus decided it is best to stay home and take the pressure off the team.
“Rassie has decided to remain in South Africa for now, to allow the focus around the team to remain on the Rugby Championship and the team itself so that they can perform to the best of their ability on the field,” Nienaber said.
Erasmus may still join the team at a later stage, depending on what happens with the hearing.
“He will continue to play an active role in our team and coaches meetings throughout the tour, and schedule permitting, he may join us later on,” the coach added.
It has also been revealed that a ‘forensic investigation’ is underway to determine who leaked the Rassie video – a 62-minute monologue in which Erasmus revealed his displeasure in the performance of Australian referee Nic Berry and his disrespectful behaviour towards Springbok skipper Siyamthanda Kolisi.
The video was directed at World Rugby’s High-Performance Match Officials Manager Joël Jutge and was forwarded through the appropriate channels.
However, it was leaked onto social media and spread around the world like wildfire.
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* Meanwhile, Nienaber said he was confident that the team would be settled in and ready for action for the opening Test against Australia on September 12.
The Springboks departed for Queensland on Thursday for the away leg of the Rugby Championship.
The team travelled from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town early in the day, where they boarded a charter flight to Brisbane with Argentina.
“We have two weeks to adapt to the time zone and conditions due to our mandatory quarantine period, and that combined with proper on-field preparations will bode well for the team before the first match,” the Bok coach said.
“This extra time will also be valuable for the players nursing niggles to recover fully.
“All of the players should be available for selection for the first Test against, so the coaches will be in a good position in terms of squad selection when we begin our preparations for those matches.”
The Boks are determined to build on their strong start to the season, as they look to defend their title in the Southern Hemisphere showpiece.
Jacques Nienaber’s charges kicked off their campaign with back-to-back victories against Argentina in Port Elizabeth, after an encouraging start to the season in which they registered a victory against Georgia and clinched the B&I Lions series – bouncing back from the controversial loss in the first Test to win the second and third internationals.
The team will face Australia on Sunday, September 12, on the Gold Coast, which will be followed by another match-up between the teams in Brisbane six days later, September 18.
These fixtures will be followed by back-to-back matches against New Zealand – Saturday, September 25, in Townsville and Saturday, October 2, at the Gold Coast.
“The players had a few days off to rest mentally and recover physically from the demanding start to the season, so we are excited to make this trip to Australia and to get back onto the park for the next leg of the competition,” Nienaber said.
“When we arrive in Australia, we will be in quarantine for two weeks, although we will be allowed to train at specific times of the day, and then we enter a challenging block of four back-to-back Tests against Australia and New Zealand respectively, so it is important that we get back into our Test-week routine as quickly as possible.”
The Springboks are currently at the top of the Rugby Championship standings after earning nine points in their first two matches, with the All Blacks in second place on five points after defeating Australia with a bonus point. Australia and Argentina have yet to get off the mark after failing to secure log points in their matches.
South African squad
Props: Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Retshegofaditswe Nché, Trevor Nyakane.
Hookers: Joseph Dweba, Johan Grobbelaar, Malcolm Marx, Mbongeni Mbonambi.
Locks: Lodewyk de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie.
Loose forwards: Siyamthanda Kolisi, Albertus Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Dan du Preez.
Utility forwards: Rynhardt Elstadt, Jean-Luc du Preez
Scrumhalves: Francois de Klerk, Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams.
Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies, Handré Pollard, Morné Steyn.
Midfielders: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel.
Outside backs: Aphelele Fassi, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Sibusiso Nkosi, Rosko Specman.
Utility backs: Damian Willemse, Frans Steyn.
@rugby365com, with additional reporting by SA Rugby