Rassie Erasmus believes the reward will be worth the ‘risk’ of making five changes to the Boks’ starting lineup for Saturday’s third and final Test against England, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Cape Town.
With the Boks having already secured the series after back-to-back wins in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, Erasmus has made as many as four changes to the backline, with Elton Jantjies, André Esterhuizen, Jesse Kriel and Warrick Gelant coming into the starting lineup.
Chiliboy Ralepelle and Schalk Brits have also been added to the match 23 in a double change at hooker, while Embrose Papier comes on to the bench.
It’s a selection aimed at exposing some new combinations and players to the pressures of Test rugby, with Erasmus admitting that he actually had to resist the temptation to make even more changes.
‘We had to consider a number of factors [when it came to selection], and we want to be sure about our options as we build towards the World Cup. However, we also didn’t want to just make wholesale changes, so this was probably the maximum we could make.
‘The thing is, if you look at the 10, 12 and 13, those three guys started in the Wales Test [on 2 June], so there shouldn’t be a lack of understanding there. Then Warrick is a guy who has been playing consistently well for the Bulls and knocking on the door. There’s definitely a little bit of a risk, but we have to see how they perform under pressure.’
Considering the number of changes to the backline, Erasmus said he felt it was important to keep some continuity among the forwards.
‘Steven [Kitshoff] is very close to deserving a start, and it’s great to see him and Beast [Mtawarira] going toe-to-toe. I still feel Thomas [du Toit] is growing into a starting tighthead, and so far I think it’s working well with how we’re integrating those players.
‘There was a bit of temptation to start Schalk [Brits], but I don’t feel that would have been fair on Chiliboy. He has been part of the group for some time now, and I don’t think he will come under any more pressure than this Saturday. So it will be great for a guy to come through that sort of challenge, and for us to know who we can take through to the World Cup.
‘We have a great platform to test a few guys this Saturday, and we’re very excited about that,’ he added.
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