Rassie Erasmus says Gio Aplon may prove a useful alternative to Springbok fullback Willie le Roux on the four-Test tour of Europe this November. JON CARDINELLI reports from Stellenbosch.
Erasmus will name his squad for the tour of Europe after the Currie Cup final on Saturday. Aplon, who hasn’t played for the Boks since 2012, is likely to be included as the Bok coach aims to bolster the group’s collective experience.
Speaking to the media from the Bok base in Stellenbosch on Friday, Erasmus suggested that Aplon will indeed make the cut. The 36-year-old has been in good form for Grenoble in France and for Toyota Verblitz in Japan. Damian Willemse may start against England at Twickenham next week, but it’s clear that Erasmus wants another alternative.
Le Roux and other Europe-based players, such as Faf de Klerk and Francois Louw, will not be available for the game against England, as it falls outside the Test window. Erasmus said on Friday that there is no clarity regarding Franco Mostert’s availability, with Gloucester and the Lions locked in a dispute over the player’s services.
Erasmus will have to look at alternatives in those positions. Aplon may come into consideration.
‘With Willie not available for some of the games, we wanted some experience at the back and someone with a strong left boot. We have a lot of exciting young talent, but not a lot of old heads. He’s a good fit in that respect,’ Erasmus said.
At this stage, there is no clarity regarding the availability of some players during the official window. There is no guarantee that the players in question will be released by their clubs to play for the Boks.
‘We could enforce World Rugby’s Regulation 9 for every single game that falls inside the international window,’ said Erasmus. ‘However, there is a human factor to consider. We have a good relationship with the [overseas] clubs at this stage too, and we want to be fair.
‘It’s a balancing act. I’d like someone like Faf de Klerk to go to the 2019 World Cup with more caps. However, I have to give other guys a chance to see what they can do at this level.
‘I can’t give an answer on Franco Mostert at the moment,’ Erasmus added. ‘If he’s a Gloucester player then obviously he’s not available for the Test against England. If he’s a Lions player then he is available. The bonus is that he’s played a lot of Test rugby so he could slot right in if available.’
The Bok coach added that he is following a few other players based in Europe, and may consider them in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup.
‘I’m following guys like Jan Serfontein, Cobus Reinach, Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn. Pat Lambie will be back in February. Anyone who is playing over there, who is in form and who fits will come into consideration.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 26, 2018