Rassie Erasmus has confirmed that Montpellier duo Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn will not be considered for selection in Saturday’s series-opening Test against England, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Johannesburg.
Of the five overseas-based players included in Erasmus’ squad for the upcoming three-Test series against England, Steyn and Du Plessis have yet to arrive in South Africa after featuring in the Top 14 final last Saturday.
When fronting up to the media at the Boks’ Montecasino base on Monday – just hours after the travelling squad returned from the one-off Test in Washington – Erasmus confirmed that Steyn and Du Plessis would need some time to settle into the camp before coming into selection contention.
‘When they get here, I obviously want a chance to see them first. We’ve followed and monitored them closely overseas, and seen how motivated they are. They’ve played a game [on Saturday], but now they need to do their exit medicals before they can be released in terms of regulation nine.
‘I’m expecting Bismarck to arrive tomorrow, and I think Frans only on Wednesday. So I won’t consider them this week just because they haven’t trained with us much, and it wouldn’t be fair on the guys that have been with us here [in camp] this whole time. I also want to see what they look like when they get here.’
It means that Damian de Allende is likely to be the preferred option to start at inside centre in this Saturday’s clash at Ellis Park, while Bongi Mbonambi is set to wear the No 2 jersey despite having yet to play this year due to a burst appendix.
‘Of course, the ideal thing is to be able to select guys who have had four or five proper games under the belt [after an injury], but sometimes you don’t have that luxury,’ Erasmus commented when asked about the options at hooker.
‘Bongi is a guy with Test experience and the good thing is that he is not coming back from a period of rehab after a knee or shoulder injury or something, but it was an appendix. So we’ve been working with Bongi quite a bit in camp already on his fitness and conditioning, so we know where he stands.
‘Then obviously between Akker [van der Merwe] and Chiliboy [Ralepelle], we have to make a call there. From next week, though, a guy like Bismarck will be in contention, but I don’t want to just throw a guy from overseas straight into the mix this week.’
Erasmus will name the team to face England on Thursday, although he admitted that it would take until the second Test to know with certainty which are the best combinations available.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 4, 2018
Photo: Sylvain Thomas/AFP