Town - During Saturday's post-match press conference at Newlands, Springbok
coach Rassie Erasmus seemed shocked
to hear that England boss Eddie Jones had referred to South Africa as genuine
title contenders at next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Boks had just dished up their
worst performance of the series, falling 25-10 to England in horrible
conditions while still emerging as 2-1 winners over the three Tests.
There is no doubt that the Boks
look in far better shape than they ever did under Allister Coetzee.
In the first two Tests they demonstrated
an ability to play attacking and dangerous running rugby while their
traditional strengths, like the rolling maul and a set piece, have also
The real test of how much this
team has improved will come in this year's Rugby Championship, but the signs
The Boks have now slipped to
sixth in the world rankings, so calling them genuine title challengers in Japan
may seem a little premature, but Erasmus ultimately agreed with Jones and
believes that the Boks have what it takes to win the tournament for the third
There are, though, many things at
play and Erasmus must balance them all at the same time to ensure that he takes
the best possible team in the best possible shape to Japan.
He opened up on some of those
challenges on Saturday, and his first issue was the amount of rugby some of the
Boks are having to play currently.
Siya Kolisi, for example, is
crying out for a rest having been ever-present for the Stormers and Boks in
On the surface, now would be the
perfect time to give Kolisi a rest, with the Stormers effectively out of Super
Rugby playoff contention.
But, as the captain of the
franchise, Kolisi might find himself on the plane to Argentina for a date with
the Jaguares this weekend when the Stormers squad is released on Monday
There are a host of others in the
Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco
Mostert, Tenda Mtawarira, RG Snyman ... they could all use a rest.
Erasmus must also use the matches
remaining between now and 2019 to ensure that he takes a transformed squad to
The instruction from government
is that the World Cup squad must be made up of 50% players of colour, and
Erasmus has been open on his desire to meet that target.
"There are so many things
we’re balancing at this stage trying to build towards the World Cup,"
Erasmus said on Saturday.
"I really think we can win
the World Cup.
"England can also win the
World Cup. They won 23 out of 25 games and now they beat us at Newlands. I
think every single team has a chance next year."
Erasmus agreed that there was no
shortage of talent in South African rugby, but he acknowledged that there was
still a long way to go.
"We got it right for two
Test matches," he said.
"We were terrible today, in
my opinion, but with the things that we tried and the lessons that we learnt …
I think if we can get it all right quickly, I think we’re in with a chance.
"We’ve got the talent, but
we’ll have to manage our players.
There are a lot of things we have
to balance so that when we hit next year September we have a fresh, experienced
team with a lot of confidence."
Erasmus is hoping that he will
have the powerhouse trio of Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley available
for the Rugby Championship in August.