Pretoria - Fielding a new-look Springbok team for the weekend’s farewell Test against Argentina at Loftus on Saturday suggests that coach Rassie Erasmus has his mind made up about his Rugby World Cup squad.
Sixteen players who were involved in the Boks’ Rugby Championship matches against the All Blacks and Pumas have been given a rest before their final pre-World Cup camp in Bloemfontein.
The team for this weekend’s clash in Pretoria closely resembles the one that beat the Wallabies last month with a few new faces been given a run.
The match sees the return of regular captain Siya Kolisi, who is being eased back slowly into the fold.
Erasmus suggested that Kolisi would make a cameo appearance,which also explained why veteran hooker Schalk Brits had been named as captain for the Test. Elton Jantjies has been named as vice-captain and will take over the captaincy should Brits be replaced.
“There are a helluva lot of changes in this team, so I guess this team will take some time to gel,” Erasmus said.
“Last week Thursday nine guys already flew back in preparation for this match before we played Argentina to give them a proper chance to be relatively fresh and give them a proper go for this match.
“Whatever the result would have been against Argentina, we would have played these guys in this game.”
Western Province hooker Scarra Ntubeni, who was named on the bench, might earn his first Springbok cap since he was called into a national squad in October 2013. The Boks’ build-up to next month’s Rugby World Cup has gone down without any significant hitches or injuries.
That is until Tuesday when the Boks revealed that attack consultant Swys de Bruin asked to be released from the team due to “personal and medical reasons”. De Bruin already left the squad following the draw with New Zealand, and it was hoped that he would link up with the team once they were back in South Africa.
Erasmus could not say whether they would replace De Bruin less than six weeks before their opening match of the global showpiece against defending champions New Zealand.
“It has been short notice for us, we didn’t expect that to happen, he left us after the New Zealand game,” Erasmus said. “We’ve been coping without him in the last two weeks, but we didn’t think it would be a permanent thing. We will work through it, and we will finish this game, then during the Bloemfontein week, we will look at all our options.
“There is a lot to think about, but I would be stupid to say yes or no, I am not quite sure yet.”
Erasmus confirmed that Kolisi would be the captain for the World Cup and their cautious approach to his reintroduction was to ensure the inspirational leader was at full strength for the showpiece. Kolisi would lead the team out in the bigger matches like the clash against the All Blacks, while other players could captain the side in the smaller encounters.
Springbok team: Warrick Gelant, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, André Esterhuizen, Dillyn Leyds, Elton Jantjies (vice-captain), Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Vincent Koch, Schalk Brits (captain), Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Lizo Gqoboka, Wilco Louw, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Frans Steyn.