BLOEMFONTEIN – Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has explained his reasoning for not selecting fan favourite Ruan Combrinck and why he preferred 21-year-old rookie Sbu Nkosi for the two remaining Rugby Championship matches.
The Boks began their preparations in Bloemfontein on Monday ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Wallabies, before they travel to Cape Town to take on the All Blacks at Newlands next week.
“The big criteria for me this year has been form,” Coetzee said on Monday.
“Ruan has not played a lot of rugby since Super Rugby and that makes a big difference, especially at this crucial stage of our campaign. We might not be in it to win it, but we still want to finish second, and end well.
“I’ve coached in Japan (where Combrinck is playing club rugby) and I know the step up from there to Test rugby is big.
“If a player’s not playing, how can I expect him to perform at Test level... and his condition a year ago, or three months ago, compared to now is also different.”
Regarding Nkosi, Coetzee said: “He’s shown great confidence playing for the Sharks, and is a player for the future. He’s consistently performed well, he has pace, good feel, aerial skills and brute strength, and he’s a good finisher.”
Francois Louw signing some autographs at the Springbok open session at Shimla Park, Bloemfontein. pic.twitter.com/BZVgYO4xoH
Coetzee, though, said wing Raymond Rhule – who was heavily criticised for his poor defensive effort in the 57-0 defeat by the All Blacks – was still a key man in his squad. “We forget quickly how good he was against the Aussies, he was outstanding,” said Coetzee.
“I’m not going to chuck a player away after one game... after seven Tests, and then start all over again.
“Part of this team’s make-up is about owning up and taking responsibility, and we’ve all done that. We learn from the past and we help each other improve, and that’s what we’re doing.”