JOHANNESBURG - Coach Rassie Erasmus has surprised many observers with is selections up to now and this week is no different with the Springboks up against their biggest rivals, the All Blacks, tomorrow.
And, for the first time since Erasmus took charge of the national team, he will go into a Test with less than five black players in his starting side. One of his major target areas as national coach is to get the Bok team properly transformed and while he has done well up to now - picking between five and seven black players in each starting team - one must question some of his selections this week and ask whether some of the black players haven’t been given a raw deal.
It is disappointing that Erasmus picked Cheslin Kolbe - a specialist outside back - from his overseas club to be part of the tour group in Australia and New Zealand, but then not back the player when the one wing position opened up, following Makazole Mapimpi picking up a tour-ending injury last week. While Jesse Kriel can no doubt do the job, the reality is the Bulls man has played wing before and was found wanting.
There will also be many questioning Erasmus putting faith in Handre Pollard at No 10, instead of sticking with Elton Jantjies, who played well enough last week to hang onto the No 10 jumper, when the Bulls man hasn’t quite fired for the Boks this season.
And while hooker Malcolm Marx was probably always in line to start this Test, Bongi Mbonambi seemed to have been harshly treated last week when he was taken off the field before half-time.
And, what about Embrose Papier? The young scrumhalf has sat on the bench as backup to Faf de Klerk for most of the Boks’ Tests this season, but when he didn’t fire last week, Erasmus kept him on and didn’t back Papier to do the business.