Rassie happy with less experienced group for RWC 2019

2019-08-27 11:10
Herschel Jantjies
Herschel Jantjies (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - When Rassie Erasmus named his squad for the 2019 World Cup in Japan on Monday, it was immediately clear that this would not be the most experienced Bok group that has ever represented the country at the global showpiece. 

There are just five players - Tendai Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Steyn, Francois Louw and Willie le Roux - who have more than 50 Test caps while there are a host of others in key positions who have only just broken through onto the international stage since Erasmus took over as coach last year. 

It is easy to see how that could be an area of concern for supporters of this Bok team, but Erasmus firmly believes he has made the right decision with the players he has. 

Picking experience, he says, was not an option. 

Erasmus worked as a technical assistant for the Boks at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand where Peter de Villiers picked a side built on experience. 

18 of the 30 players in De Villiers' squad that year had won the World Cup in 2007 under Jake White, and while Erasmus remembers them being valuable in terms of their experience, he also remembers them being a liability at training. 

"I don't think we had the luxury to pick a team with a lot of World Cup experience," he said on Monday.

"I think it's two-fold.

"The one thing I learnt from 2011 when I was involved there ... we had a really experienced team, but I feel that what you gain in experience you lose in availability and agility.

"We had a hell of an experienced team in 2011, but of 30 guys there were always six or seven sitting next to the field on a Monday or a Tuesday with a hamstring or with a shoulder and you just didn't have a lot of training numbers and intensity at training sessions.

"Then again, when you get to big games on Saturday you had a lot of calm heads in terms of decision making."

In 2019, the Boks have mixed things up a lot over their four Test matches up until now and that allowed Erasmus to give players opportunities while also ensuring that his key players were rested when they needed to be.

The conditioning, Erasmus says, has helped him be able to do that.  

"This year, we had 34 or 35 guys, but there was not one day when there was a player sitting next to the field," he said.

"They were always training and always available, and I just believe that lifts the intensity.

"We're taking a bit of a risk because you won't have all those calm heads, but hopefully it gets made up with the intensity and all the coaching time we get with them.

"I really believe this is the best 31 guys we could have picked who are in form, available and fit enough."

The Boks play their first match of RWC 2019 against defending champions and pre-tournament favourites New Zealand in Yokohama on September 21. 

Springboks' 31-man Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (17)

Schalk Brits (Bulls), Lood de Jager (Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Saracens, England), Siya Kolisi (captain, Stormers), Francois Louw (Bath, England), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Lions), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Lions), RG Snyman (Bulls), Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)

Backs (14)

Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England), Warrick Gelant (Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Herschel Jantjies (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), S'bu Nkosi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz, Japan), Handre Pollard (Bulls), Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints, England), Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France)

Read more on:    springboks  |  rwc 2019  |  rassie erasmus  |  rugby


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