The Springboks expect Willie le Roux to be available for all of their Rugby Championship games, but will manage his game time. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Le Roux was one of the standout performers for the Boks during the June series against England, which saw the 28-year-old revive his Test career after missing out on selection in 2017.
The dynamic fullback – who plays for Wasps in England – is one of just three overseas-based players to be named in the Springboks’ Rugby Championship squad, but there has been some mixed speculation surrounding his availability for the full duration of the competition.
On Tuesday, the RugbyPass website reported that Le Roux would only be available for the Boks’ first three Rugby Championship clashes – two against Argentina and one against Australia – before returning to Wasps.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young told RugbyPass that they expected Le Roux to miss only their first three English Premiership matches, which take place on the first three weekends of September.
‘We have worked this out through discussions with everyone involved. It is great that he is back in Test rugby and with a change of coach, Willie wanted to be part of it again.
‘Willie will be back for three Premiership games leading into the European matches and he may go back for one more game with South Africa, so the maximum games he will miss for Wasps will be four.’
However, SARugbymag.co.za has received confirmation that the Boks believe Le Roux is available for all of the Rugby Championship clashes, but that they will be mindful of managing his game time.
At a press conference in Stellenbosch on Monday, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus already stated that they were keen to see what talented 20-year-old Damian Willemse could offer at fullback.
‘A position like 15 at his age currently is probably where the pressure might be a little less and you can blood him into a team. He will get his chance in the next two games against Argentina so let’s see how he goes and take it from there.’
When asked about the availability of Le Roux, Erasmus simply stated: ‘Willie, Faf [de Klerk] and Francois [Louw] will all be available from the first match.’
The Springboks will kick off their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina on 18 August, before heading to Mendoza for an immediate return fixture.
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images