Rynhardt Elstadt will look to bounce back with the Springboks in the July series against Wales after Toulouse’s French Top 14 title defence was ended by Castres on Friday.
Elstadt contributed 15 tackles to the cause in the semi-final, but Fiji wing Filipo Nakosi set up the crucial try for Castres to shock the champions 24-18 on Friday night.
Nakosi assisted fullback Julien Dumora in the final five minutes as record 21-time winners Toulouse added this semi-final defeat to May’s last-four loss to Leinster in the European Champions Cup.
Last week, Elstadt was one of three utility forwards selected in a 48-man Bok squad chosen for three Tests against Wales, as well as the Rugby Championship, and the November tour to Europe.
Castres will face Montpellier or Bordeaux, who meet on Saturday in Nice, in the final next Friday at the Stade de France in Paris.
“We will remain humble, there’s still one more step to take for us to have what we really want, to win the title,” Nakosi’s teammate Thomas Combezou said. “The job’s not done. The aim is next week.”
Former New Zealand prop Charlie Faumuina returned to Toulouse’s side after his three-week ban for dangerous play was reduced.
Castres head coach Pierre-Henry Broncan made three changes as in-form Kiwi No 8 Teariki Ben-Nicholas came in for Frenchman Kevin Kornath.
The holders were quickest out of the blocks as France wing Matthis Lebel found a way through heavy Castres defence to cross after Thomas Ramos’ pass.
TV footage afterwards appeared to show Lebel knock the ball on before grounding it from Nakosi’s tackle, but referee Ludovic Cayre chose against double-checking the effort with his video official.
Fullback Ramos and Castres flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta traded penalties before the momentum of the half changed with a water break, enforced due to the temperature reaching almost 30°C on the Mediterranean coast.
Toulouse’s Australia lock Rory Arnold was yellow-carded from the restart for a high tackle on Nakosi, with Urdapilleta making it a three-point game with a penalty five minutes later.
The Argentina playmaker added a third penalty just before half time to make it 10-9 but only after his wing Geoffrey Palis failed to ground Urdapilleta’s delicate chip kick in the in-goal area.
After the interval, Castres, from a town of just 40,000 residents, took the lead for the first time as scrumhalf Santiago Arata picked and went to score from short range.
The champions responded three minutes later with Romain Ntamack’s try before Urdapilleta and Ramos once again had shots at goal to make it 19-18 with 10 minutes to play.
With less than three minutes left on the clock Broncan’s side clinched their place in Friday’s showpiece event with Nakosi’s sixth assist of the season.
The former Toulon wing (30) broke down the left and fed Dumora sublimely for the fullback to cross in the corner as they eye a sixth French title.
© Agence France-Presse