Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus conceded that England have the upper hand when it comes to scrumhalves ahead of their clash at Twickenham on Saturday.
With incumbent Faf de Klerk, who has started all but one Springbok Test under Erasmus, missing from the tour due to club commitments, there will be a new Bok No 9 at Twickenham.
While there are adequate and experienced options to fill in for the likes of Willie le Roux and Francois Louw, who will only be missing this Test as it falls outside the international window, Erasmus’ options at scrumhalf are limited to Embrose Papier‚ Ivan van Zyl and Louis Schreuder.
The trio has a combined eight Test caps between them, while Papier has doubled as a wing substitute and Van Zyl is the only one of the three to make a start.
Sharks scrumhalf and Currie Cup-winning captain Schreuder is technically the most experienced of Erasmus’ options, as the 28-year-old is four caps away from being a Super Rugby centurion.
However, this pales when compared to the fact that England will be able to call on 31-year-old Danny Care, 29-year-old Ben Youngs and 35-year-old Richard Wigglesworth.
Erasmus admitted that scrumhalf could indeed prove to be a problem as his side looks for their third win of the year against England.
‘We are thin there [at scrumhalf]‚’ Erasmus conceded when addressing the media in London. ‘It’s just one of those cycles that we’re going through where we don’t have a lot of experienced nines.
‘The English are good and physical‚ they are strong in the mauls and set phases‚ as well as on defence. They can vary their game and that’s the biggest lesson we learned from our defeat in Cape Town in June.
‘In June we played England with an outside centre and two wingers with no caps. We are going through a period of not having a lot of experienced scrumhalves.
‘But Ivan and Embrose have been in the system since the beginning of the season‚ so it’s not a matter of them having to learn everything from scratch.’
Photo: Scott Taetsch/Gallo Images