Erasmus confirmed his 31-man World Cup squad in Johannesburg on Monday. The group will become the first foreign side to arrive ahead of the global showpiece when it touches down in Japan this weekend.
The Boks will face Japan in a World Cup warm-up game on 6 September. Two weeks later, they will front the All Blacks in the Pool B opener in Yokohama.
It’s a long time to be away from home. If the Boks progress to the final, they will have been in Japan for nine weeks.
Erasmus said that the decision to travel early was based on the desire to adapt to Japan’s heat and humidity.
‘I know that some teams have gone to Portugal and others have used [special simulation] chambers. We just decided that we will go early to Japan,’ the Bok coach said.
‘We will fly there on Friday and become the first team to arrive in Japan. The benefit of getting there early is that we will get used to the heat. We will play an actual game in the heat [against Japan] before the World Cup starts. We’ll get an idea about the crowd. Hopefully we will be the first foreign team to adapt to the local conditions.
‘All the other teams are trying different things. Yes, we have made the tour longer by doing things this way, but the spin-off is getting used to the heat and conditions.’
Erasmus said that the team has been managed this season with the World Cup in mind. In the recent Rugby Championship, we saw the squad split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams. Erasmus is likely to employ a similar approach in the pool stage of the global tournament.
‘We broke it down and said the Rugby Championship marked the beginning of a 20-week journey. We’re now in week 10. We’ve rotated squads and players. We’ve had a big pool of players, so we’ve been able to manage game time and at the same time ensure that everyone understands the game plan.
‘We will choose our best available side for the game against Japan,’ he said. ‘Then we’ll have a break in that we won’t play the following Saturday. Then our best available team will face the All Blacks the following week.
‘The best team will rest during the week of the Namibia game, and then the best available team will face Italy. Then a few guys will get a rest in the week of the Canada game.
‘The form team will obviously play from there on [in the playoffs].’