PRETORIA – With the Rugby World Cup squad all but confirmed, there is the risk of fringe players stepping out of formation to prove a point in Saturday’s Farewell Test against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.
But Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus believes they have been honest with their communication with the players and their respective roles throughout the Rugby Championship and ahead of this weekend’s clash.
“We are taking a chance with so many changes. The result is important to us, it is a Test, and we want the people to come out and support us,” Erasmus said.
“Every player knows the first thing in our team selection criteria is that they have to be a team player. Your skill, output, X-factor and all those things are not the first thing we look at, and every player knows that.”
Erasmus said team management had informed the players of what the make-up of the squad would be for the World Cup, and which positions would be up for grabs.
None of the starting XV that featured in the Boks’ 46-13 win over Los Pumas in Salta, Argentina, will play a part in Saturday’s game at Loftus, while only five that were in the match-day squad have been selected for this weekend.
“We are relative sure, probably about 80% about what the squad will look like, especially in terms of the make-up,” he said.
“Are we going to go for four locks, five loose forwards, five props and those kinds of things. The squad knows that, we explained that in detail to the squad, and we explained how they would compete for positions.
“It is tough. Only 31 guys can go, and we haven’t had a lot of injuries, so there are a few positions where the guys are battling.”
Jessie Kriel, who will partner with André Esterhuizen in the midfield, echoed Erasmus’ sentiments and believed the entire squad were all pulling in the same direction.
“We’ve got such a clear-cut plan and direction about what we want to do as a squad, and I don’t think there is a place for that in the team,” Kriel said.
“This whole year, everyone has been driven towards contributing to their respective roles. There is no space for that, and there aren’t those kinds of personalities in the team that will want to go their way.
“Everyone is all kind of aligned in that V-formation towards performing well.”