Vincent Koch says the competition for front-row places in the lead-up to the World Cup will be good for Springbok rugby. JON CARDINELLI reports from Port Elizabeth.
Rassie Erasmus has recalled Koch to the Bok squad ahead of the Test against the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth. If the Saracens tighthead doesn’t make his return to the side this week – after nearly two years in the international wilderness – he may very well be deployed against the All Blacks in Pretoria on 6 October.
Erasmus isn’t short of tighthead options at the moment. Frans Malherbe was the first-choice No 3 at the 2015 World Cup, and fronted the All Blacks in Wellington two weeks ago.
Wilco Louw has been in the mix since 2017, while Trevor Nyakane is another who will be considered once he is fit. The latter was seen training with the Bok group on Monday afternoon, even though he isn’t part of the squad proper.
Erasmus was impressed by Thomas du Toit’s contributions over the course of the series against England in June. The Bok coach suggested that Du Toit’s shift from loosehead to tighthead had been a successful one.
Du Toit was not included in the Bok squad for the Tests against Australia and New Zealand, though. Erasmus will consider Koch, Malherbe and Louw for the tighthead responsibilities over the next two games.
‘It’s a good problem to have,’ Koch said on Tuesday. ‘Those are all world-class players and I’m sure any coach would love to be in a position where he has those players at his disposal.
‘It’s definitely going to be a challenge as far as getting a start is concerned, but we’re all mates and we will push each other to the next level. That can only be a good thing for the team.’
Erasmus has made it clear that developing depth ahead of the 2019 World Cup is one of his priorities. The Boks may take three specialist tightheads to that tournament, as well as a ‘swinger’ who can pack down on both sides of the scrum.
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