Rassie Erasmus is looking forward to see what Kwagga Smith can do with proper preparation ahead of the Springboks’ clash with the All Blacks on Saturday.
Smith will start just his second Test match in an otherwise experienced loose trio that includes Pieter-Steph du Toit and match-day captain Duane Vermeulen.
The flank is coming off an outstanding Vodacom Super Rugby season for the Lions, where he top-scored for the Johannesburg-based team with seven tries in 11 matches before suffering a hamstring injury in the latter stages of the tournament.
The 26-year-old made his Springbok debut in the one-off Test against Wales in Washington DC last year. It was a match which a very mix-and-match Bok team went on to lose 22-20.
‘It was a tough one with only two or three days of preparation,’ Erasmus said on the Wales Test. ‘So I haven’t really had a chance to coach Kwagga into a proper Test match, because we also had to split our resources before that specific match as we played England the following week; so it was tough. Now we have had two weeks of proper coaching before he will play for us.
‘Overall, I think he is energetic. He is opportunistic and a ball-player. He has a big engine on him. Obviously he is not one of the biggest guys but if you take people like Sam Cane and those kinds of players, he matches them size-wise. He has a big heart and is a great team man and I think what he does on attack and defence matches any other player in [Vodacom] Super Rugby.
‘It is going to be very interesting to see what he does at a Test-match level, having had a proper buildup which he didn’t have last year for that Wales Test.’
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel.
Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix