Cape Town - In a perfect world, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus would like to rotate players in the opening four rounds of the Rugby Championship.
Injuries in key positions, however, means that will not be possible this year.
The Boks start their campaign in Durban against Argentina next weekend, while they are away in Mendoza in Round 2. That, Erasmus says, is when the travel starts to become a problem.
The Boks go from Mendoza back home where they have a week off, but then they are on the road again for fixtures against the Wallabies in Brisbane (September 8) and then the All Blacks in Wellington (September 15).
It means that the bulk of the Boks will have set foot in four different countries in a month, and that is precisely why Erasmus would ideally like to split his squads for the opening four rounds of the competition.
The Wallabies and All Blacks meanwhile, will have been based close to home for the opening two weeks of their Rugby Championship campaigns before welcoming the Boks and Pumas to Australasia.
"With the injuries we have currently, I don’t think we’re in that fortunate position where we can really do that," Erasmus told media in Stellenbosch on Monday.
"Currently we have six or seven crucial injuries where we don’t have the luxury of picking two equally strong teams. If you look at the number of caps that we have it might be too much of a risk to do things like that.
"You don’t want to go to Australia and get hammered.
"What I was trying to explain is the fact that when you play Argentina home and away and you come back and fly to Australia and then New Zealand … you’ve travelled around the world and now you must perform against the world’s best team who have been waiting there fresh as a daisy.
"I don’t think as we sit here today that we are in a position to do that. My wording was maybe wrong when I spoke to the specific person about how we might be creative in managing our workloads."
While building to the Rugby World Cup next year and finding his best combinations for that tournament is high up on Erasmus' list of priorities, he maintained that winning now was first prize.
"Winning is always the primary objective, but we also have a long-term goal of building towards the World Cup," he explained.
"We are consistently aiming for three things: winning, transforming and building depth and experience in the squad."