The Springboks start the final phase of their build-up towards the World Cup with a match squad against the Wallabies that will probably divide opinion.
Coach Rassie Erasmus on Wednesday mixed reasonably new faces with some experienced hands for the weekend’s meeting with the Wallabies.
VIDEO: Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus explains that selection for this weekend's Qantas Wallabies Test isn't a last chance saloon for some of the players.
Posted by The Citizen Sport on Wednesday, 17 July 2019
Yet, in a World Cup year, some will argue one’s best team should be playing week-in and week-out.
As it turns out, Erasmus doesn’t quite believe that … and uses the All Blacks as a prime example.
Here are three key themes from his team announcement.
Picking a ‘B-team’ is necessary
In 2011, the All Blacks came here in the Rugby Championship with a ‘weakened’ team to Port Elizabeth and lost to us (18-5). And a few weeks later, they won the World Cup. Sometimes, while you’re building a bit of momentum, you have to take a few chances and even risks. If guys like Beast Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw and Makazole Mapimpi don’t make you excited and aren’t pushing the so-called first choices, then I don’t know.
If any Springbok team wins on the day, I don’t think ticket sales would’ve had much to do with it. We pick teams and play like every Test should be worth buying a ticket for. I’ll take the flak if this team doesn’t perform, but we need to have a bit of a long-term perspective here too. It’s likely that if our travel schedule wasn’t so hectic (they’re in New Zealand next week), the ‘A-team’ would’ve probably played this week too.
Jesse Kriel graduates to senior player status … as vice-captain
When you look at the backline, we only really have an experienced flyhalf (Elton Jantjies) and Jesse, our outside centre. Andre Esterhuizen is only at cap eight or so as a Springbok, while Sbu Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi did so well in Super Rugby, but aren’t experienced Test match players yet.
So, Jesse is the guy who’s most accustomed to Test rugby in our backline and is well versed in the things we wan’t to get right against the Wallabies. That’s why he’s vice-captain for this game. I must say, he’s really doing a great job in leading the boys. I guess a guy like Frans Steyn will provide that type of leadership too when he comes on, but we need it at the start too.
Herschel Jantjies simply barnstormed his way into Springbok reckoning
We know exactly what we have in guys like Embrose Papier, Ivan van Zyl and even Louis Schreuder at scrumhalf. All of them had runs last year. Herschel has knocked down the door with the way he played in Super Rugby. When he came up against some of the best players in Super Rugby, he stood his ground and was consistent on attack and defence.
For a young guy, he’s done really well on a technical level. He’s slotted in well. He’ll be nervous, it’s his first Test, but I’m convinced he’s ready to go.