Erasmus faces home truths
email@example.com IF WINNING away from home is considered a bonus, then the Springboks have no option but to win their two home matches in the Rugby Championship.
The final whistle will hardly have blown in Wellington today and underfire coach Rassie Erasmus will have turned his attention to the games in Port Elizabeth, against Australia, and Pretoria, against New Zealand, to restore Bok pride.
It has been a rough few weeks for the new Bok boss after getting his coaching stint off on the right note against England in June.
Before today’s Test, Erasmus’s team had won at home in the Rugby Championship against Argentina, but then lost to the same side in Mendoza and also come unstuck to Australia in Brisbane.
On his way back to South Africa tomorrow, Erasmus will consider not only the style of play employed by his team, but also whether he actually has the right personal in place to ensure home wins in Port Elizabeth on September 29 and in Pretoria the following weekend.
He is likely to stick largely to the same group of players who have done duty for him over the last two weeks, but may consider a few other options, who’re currently involved in the Currie Cup competition.
That is, of course, if Erasmus believes he needs to boost his squad.
One player who springs to mind for the Bok coach to consider is the Lions’ Lionel Mapoe, who can play at outside centre and wing, and will bring experience and consistency of performance into the Bok set-up.
Other backline players Erasmus may be thinking about roping in are Dillyn Leyds and Andries Coetzee, who can play wing and fullback – it is unsure whether Willie le Roux will be available for the home Tests – while Western Province centre Ruhan Nel, a Sevens specialist, has been spoken about as the potential answer to solve the Bok midfield conundrum.
Unfortunately for Erasmus, some of his first-choice players are down with injury at the moment and are unlikely to feature before the November tour to Europe, if at all this season.
Exciting outside backs Sbu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi, Warrick Gelant and Travis Ismaiel – all players who would have come into consideration for all the Rugby Championship Tests this season – are injured, while forwards like Trevor Nyakane, Lizo Gqoboka, Lood de Jager, Cyle Brink and Jean-Luc du Preez are not expected to be back any time soon.
Then there is Duane Vermeulen, who Erasmus was desperate to get released from his Japanese club contract for today’s match against the All Blacks, but a hamstring injury picked up while playing for the Kubota Spears put paid to those musings.
It is doubtful that the star of the home series against England in June will play for the Boks in the two home Tests.
Erasmus has a lot to consider and think about on his way home from New Zealand.
The Boks are expected to have most of next week off before getting together next weekend in Port Elizabeth to start preparations for the Australia match.
For a report on today’s Test in Wellington (kick-off 9.35am SA time) go to iol.co.za/sport and see Independent Media’s countrywide Sunday newspaper offerings tomorrow.
Lions utility back Lionel Mapoe is an option for a Springbok recall. BackpagePix