Rassie Erasmus says the Springboks will never catch up to other leading teams in world rugby unless they are willing to keep trying new things, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Johannesburg.
Following South Africa’s loss to Wales in Washington last Saturday – the third consecutive defeat against the Dragons – the Springboks dropped to a lowly seventh place in the world rankings.
This Saturday, the Boks will be looking to begin a journey to redemption, with plenty of expectation building in anticipation of a new and improved era under the guidance of Erasmus.
Thursday’s team selection reflected Erasmus’ desire to make some bold calls and back players who boast an abundance of talent. The likes of Aphiwe Dyantyi, S’bu Nkosi and Lukhanyo Am all fit into that category, with the trio set to make their first Test starts at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Erasmus said it had not been difficult to select Saturday’s match-day squad after months of preparation that took into consideration various factors such as the desire to play winning rugby, build squad depth and to meet transformation goals.
‘Looking at this season, I think it is massively important to make brave calls, and to not just be in crisis management mode. We don’t want to make conservation selections or just go back to the older generation. We want to keep evolving, and trying and testing new guys under pressure.
‘The aim is to also build our squad and leadership group, while hopefully winning while doing it. There’s always pressure to win, but we never want to stop trying things or we will never catch up. It’s important to strike that balance between winning and evolving.’
Erasmus acknowledged that a lot of their planning had also been done with next year’s World Cup in mind, but expressed a desire for a talented team to play without a fear of failure against England.
‘The big things we are looking at is, of course, to win. Then there’s transformation that we need to fix, and we want to develop our squad. From a strategic focal point, we saw last weekend how there were a lot of new caps, and with the guys so desperate to get things right, I think some of their individual skills took a back step.
‘I want to see that Aphiwe step, and let’s see S’bu’s power and how he performs under the high ball. We have individuals with real X-factor, and we want to see that come through. I’m very comfortable with the team that has been picked.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 7, 2018