Rassie: Boks have long-term plan for Wessels

Rassie Erasmus emphasised the importance of building squad depth with an eye on the next World Cup after handing Jan-Hendrik Wessels a surprise call to the Springbok squad.

Wessels was arguably the biggest surprise when Erasmus announced the young Vodacom Bulls hooker in the 39-man squad for the upcoming series against Ireland.

MORE: Boks ease fears over walking wounded

The 23-year-old, who has played just 10 games for the Vodacom Bulls this season, leapfrogged the likes of Andre-Hugo Venter and Joseph Dweba – both part of the 14-man standby squad – to join teammate Johan Grobbelaar in the team.

Interestingly, Wessels was listed as a “front-rower” in the official press release, as it appears the Springboks will look at him as both a loosehead prop and a hooker.

“We earmarked Jan-Hendrik Wessels from our Elite Player Development (EPD) system from under 15 level, when he was playing prop then,” Erasmus explained during a press conference on Wednesday.

“We don’t have control over where the franchises select the players, but with him being able to play hooker and prop it offers us additional options among the forwards.

“Johan Grobbelaar was also one of the stand-out hookers in the Vodacom URC this season for the Bulls, while Sacha (Feinberg-Mngomezulu) has also come through the ranks, and he has been part of our structures before with the SA ‘A’ team and he understands our systems and slotted in with ease.

LISTEN: Why Boks are buzzing

“We are a at a stage where we are trying to expose players to the Springbok environment as much as possible.

“We had four new capped players against Wales, and we have four debutants in this squad – Phepsi Buthelezi, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Johan Grobbelaar and Morne van den Berg,” Erasmus added.

“There could be a few more against Portugal if we achieve our goals against Ireland, so we could have a healthy new crop of national players later in this season.”

Photo: Geraint Nicholas/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images

Post by