Update on Rassie’s job
Erasmus believes a much-improved display will be crucial against NZ
SPRINGBOK coach Rassie Erasmus knows his team have to improve markedly if they are to trouble the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship encounter in Wellington tomorrow.
The South Africans head into the match on the back of successive defeats to Argentina and Australia and a 3-4 win-loss record in 2018. Since their last win in New Zealand in 2009, the Springboks have beaten the All Blacks only twice in 17 Tests, but Erasmus believes there is hope.
After naming his team yesterday, Erasmus emphasised that the Springboks will have to reduce the number of costly errors against New Zealand.
“We have to deliver a much improved performance against the All Blacks,” he said. “Keeping our discipline and retaining possession will be key because New Zealand’s ability to counter from turnover ball is well-known. That means we have to be patient, our decision-making must be good and we have to capitalise on the opportunities that we create. The traditional rivalry between the two countries mean we can expect a huge physical battle.”
Erasmus has made three changes and a positional switch to the starting side for the kickoff at 9.35 am tomorrow.
Centre Jesse Kriel moves to the wing to replace the injured Makazole Mapimpi, who returned home to South Africa after the 23-18 loss to the Wallabies last weekend.
The move sees Lukhanyo Am return to the match-day squad in the No 13 berth.
As expected, Erasmus has brought Handré Pollard back into the starting XV at flyhalf for the clash that sees Elton Jantjies drop to the bench. The only change to the pack sees Malcolm Marx rotating starting places with Bongi Mbonambi in the No 2 jersey and among the reserves, Ross Cronjé swaps places with Embrose Papier as the back-up scrumhalf.
Meanwhile, Erasmus will not have his legacy determined by what happens against the All Blacks, says SA Rugby president Mark Alexander.
Erasmus said in the build-up to the match that a repeat of last year’s 57-0 thrashing in Albany would likely see him fired, but Alexander was quick to put a stop to that thinking.
Speaking to Keo.co.za, Alexander said that Erasmus would definitely be the man to guide the Boks to the World Cup in Japan next year.
“The All Blacks have consistently been the number one team in the world. Their record at home is unrivalled and this year they have put 40 points past the Wallabies and 46 past the Pumas,” he said.
“The Springboks have never won at Westpac Stadium. It would require a history-making effort to get the win. I know the belief within the squad is such that Saturday [tomorrow] could be that glory evening but the making of Rassie Erasmus as the Springbok coach won’t be in a victory or defeat on Saturday.
“Rassie’s legacy as a coach will be balanced against what the Springboks can produce at the 2019 World Cup and we trust everything in his plan over the next year to get the Springboks into a position of strength and World Cup tournament contenders.”
Tomorrow’s other Rugby Championship Test sees Australia host Argentina at Robina Stadium on the Gold Coast at 12 noon (SA time). — Sport24.
Centre Jesse Kriel moves to the wing for the Springboks’ clash with New Zealand in Wellington tomorrow.