Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux will be available for the duration of the Rugby Championship, while Duane Vermeulen may only feature in certain games. JON CARDINELLI reports from Bloemfontein.
The Boks scored five tries in their 42-39 win against England in Johannesburg on Saturday. Debutants RG Snyman, Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’bu Nkosi impressed, as did the overseas-based trio of De Klerk, Le Roux and Vermeulen.
Afterwards, coach Rassie Erasmus highlighted the potential of the new combinations. The more these players play together, he suggested, the stronger and more dangerous this team will become in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup.
However, there has been some doubt over the ongoing involvement of the overseas-based players.
Last week, Vermeulen told the media that his availability for the Rugby Championship will only be confirmed at the end of June. There’s been no official word of where Vermeulen – who recently completed a three-year stint with Toulon – is going after the third Test against England.
There is also a rumour doing the rounds regarding Le Roux’s availability for the Tests against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Some have suggested that the Wasps fullback may miss the Rugby Championship altogether.
The question about the overseas-based players was put to Erasmus at a press conference in Bloemfontein on Monday. He assured reporters that at least two of those key players will remain with the Boks for the duration of the southern hemisphere showpiece.
‘Faf and Willie will be available, but Duane might not be available for certain games,’ he said.
The Bok coach attempted to play down the impending loss of Vermeulen. Erasmus said that the powerful No 8’s absence won’t compromise the team, given that a number of senior players are set to return from injury before the Rugby Championship.
‘With regards to Duane, we want to try a few things and see how we get on without him in some of the Rugby Championship games. You have to remember, guys like Warren Whiteley, Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Coenie Oosthuizen will be back from injury for that tournament.
‘This is a good opportunity to build some leadership depth without Duane in the mix. We can pull him back with World Rugby’s Regulation Nine [which ensures that clubs release their players for Test duty in the relevant windows], but we want to build up that leadership.’
‘I know I have spoken about the leadership group, but what we really are trying to do is to get the players to think like coaches.
‘That’s what Siya and Duane are installing, and is hopefully what Schalk Brits [who was called up to the squad on Monday] can also bring to the party. Handré Pollard is a cool head and a former Junior Bok captain, so he has a role to play. We must empower those players to make decisions.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 11, 2018
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