Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has responded boldly to his task of transforming the national side, saying that he refuses to "cheapen" the process.
Erasmus, in his first year as Springbok coach, was given a target of ensuring that 45% of his selections in 2018 were made up of players of colour.
That number will rise to 50% in 2019.
In 2018, the Boks carded 38.3% on the transformation front.
In an exclusive interview with SuperSport commentator Matt Pearce over the weekend, Erasmus argued that while transformation in terms of the actual number had not been achieved in 2018, the long-term, overall goal of transforming the side was a success.
"There was a clear target of 45% this year and next year there is a target of 50%. I didn't reach the 45%," Erasmus said, before going into detail around the topic.
"45% is a number and you have to reach that number. If you don't put a number to it people are going to find excuses … the reason there is a number is to put those excuses away and ask: 'Are these guys really transforming the team and giving the same opportunities?'
"First of all, you must go and look at our management team. We've got a great management team who I feel is world class, right through from the medical team and the operational guys. That target is achieved.
"We all know when we sit there in a team meeting that what has happened in the past is that if a black hooker would get injured and you would have to put a white hooker in there, then you'd have to drop a white winger and put a black winger there.
"That's when transformation becomes a joke and when people, fans, black players and white players get upset.
"You're now sitting in front of a team and taking this guy off and that guy off to get the numbers right."
Erasmus went on to list the players of colour that had been given opportunities in the Bok set-up this year, saying that such exposure to the international stage was more important than reaching numbers.
"But if you've got a long-term vision in terms of giving the guys exposure slowly ... we are trying to create a squad where we don't have to move things around when players get injured," he said.
"That's when the whole transformation thing loses credibility.
"I know that in the last Test match we had eight out of 23 (players of colour), but I'm not going to cheapen it and lose faith in the player and then the players lose faith in each other.
"I'll rather take the blame and then people can say 'Rassie, one of your KPIs is not achieved'. I will say 'boys, here is the depth we've created'.
"That's why I feel that the transformation goal has been achieved ... maybe not the number. I must take the flak for the number, but I'm not going to cheapen transformation because the number couldn't be reached."