Rassie has faith in youngsters
Cape Town - Western Province's director of coaching Rassie Erasmus
says they have enough young tight forwards to be optimistic for the future.
Click to BUY the SA Rugby Annual 2011
Erasmus told Die Burger
newspaper that young players like Quinn Roux (lock), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Siyabonga Ntubeni (hooker) and Frans Malherbe (prop) will add depth to the Stormers' tight five for next season's Super Rugby tournament.
The union has come under fire in media circles recently for letting some promising young players - like Johan Sadie, JJ Engelbrecht and Lionel Cronje - slip through their fingers.
Older stalwarts like lock Adriaan Fondse
, flank Pieter Louw and prop JD Moller were also not offered new contracts. It was announced over the weekend that Fondse is off to England to play for the Newcastle Falcons.
But Erasmus believes some of the criticisms have been harsh. "We have brought young guys through our structures and believe that they could pull us through with some of the older players."
Roux and Etzebeth will provide back-up at lock for Rynhardt Elstadt, Andries Bekker
and De Kock Steenkamp.
And Erasmus believes they have enough reserves at prop forward, with Steven Kitshoff and Malherbe impressing the WP mentor.
"On the one hand there's talk that we shouldn't lose local players, but at the same time there's the opinion that we should buy tight forwards. Where would we then find space for guys like Rynhardt, Andries, Duane Vermeulen
and Kitshoff when they recover from their injuries?
"And will guys like Malherbe, Etzebeth, Roux and Ntubeni stay on in the WP if we buy other players?
"Last year we made the Suepr Rugby final and this season we topped the South African conference. What does this say about the rest of South Africa if our tight five is not good enough?"
The former Bok also said they bought backs Gerhard van den Heever and Joe Pietersen
to cover for the loss of JJ Engelbrecht (to the Bulls) and Conrad Jantjes (to France).
"We won't buy players from outside simply because they are available, but because we need them," said Erasmus.