Rassie Erasmus’ plan to field two fetchers in the same back row will depend on the game situation at Kings Park. JON CARDINELLI reports from Durban.
As expected, Erasmus has included two uncapped players in Marco van Staden and Damian Willemse on the Springbok bench for the Test against Argentina this Saturday. The Bok coach confirmed on Thursday that the use of these players, and indeed the composition of the loose trio in the latter stages, will depend on where the hosts are on the scoreboard.
Last week, Erasmus stated in no uncertain terms that he wanted to see Van Staden at No 6 and Francois Louw at No 8 at some point in the Rugby Championship. On Thursday, however, he named a starting loose trio of Louw, Siya Kolisi and Warren Whiteley.
Van Staden has been named on the bench, though, and Erasmus has intimated that we may well see two fetchers in action during the second half.
‘It really depends on where we are in the game,’ Erasmus said. ‘It also depends on what areas we are struggling in.
‘If we are battling at the ground, then I will bring Marco on and Flo will move to No 8. If it’s a case of one guy struggling to keep up with the pace of the game, then it will be a straight swap [with the struggling player leaving the field].
‘Francois Louw has had six or seven weeks of pre-season training [with English club Bath],’ he added. ‘So we will see if he can go the distance in this game.’
Erasmus is expecting a big contest at the rucks and collisions. The Argentinians are renowned for their physicality, and possess some of the strongest players at the breakdown.
‘I think referee Ben O’Keefe is going to have a tough time managing that,’ the Bok coach said with a chuckle. ‘We will go hard at the breakdown. They look to bite hard at every second or third ruck.
‘We’ve had to rejig our back-row dynamic [now that Duane Vermeulen is unavailable],’ Erasmus added. ‘We’ve got a lot of speed in the back row now, but we also have guys who can poach and force turnovers. Having a guy like Malcolm Marx at hooker will also offset the loss of Duane.
‘We will have to get the balance right when guys like Malcolm go off later in the game, though. We have to stop them from getting momentum at the rucks.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images