Rassie Erasmus says he isn’t concerned by the lack of game-time afforded to the Boks’ back-up scrumhalves, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
At the beginning of the year, there were plenty of question marks over who the Boks would back at No 9. The good news is that Faf de Klerk has made the most of his opportunities upon earning a recall to the national side, and has since established himself as the first-choice halfback.
However, De Klerk’s value to the side – which was highlighted in an analysis by SARugbymag.co.za – has also resulted in very limited playing time for the reserve scrumhalves.
De Klerk has played almost every minute of the Boks’ Rugby Championship campaign, and Erasmus acknowledged that there was a delicate balancing act between risk and reward.
‘We would have liked to give more game time to certain guys, but there’s also a risk if you lose matches and momentum because you’re making changes in a key position, and then the whole train can go off the rails. Sometimes the game is too close and you can’t make those changes.’
Erasmus insisted that he was very comfortable with the back-up options offered by Embrose Papier, Ross Cronjé and Ivan van Zyl.
‘Sometimes people forget that Ross already has quite a few caps to his name , and he’s played in pressure situations. So if he has to come into the team, it’s nothing new and we know what we have in him.
‘Then Ivan has been around the squad for a while, and a guy like Embrose too. Even though they haven’t been able to get all that much game time, I think guys like that would have really benefited a lot from being in the camp.’
Erasmus said it was also important to bear in mind that De Klerk has also only played 19 Tests, and that there was great value in building his experience ahead of next year’s World Cup.
‘We’d love to give more game time to the No 9s, but we know the importance of a guy like Faf [playing well], and the benefit of him building experience. He’s someone we want to keep developing through to the World Cup.’
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