CAPE TOWN – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has erred on the side of caution by opting to not enforce a call-up to Franco Mostert for Saturday’s Test against England at Twickenham.
Confusion has reigned over the last few weeks over whether Mostert is still contracted to the Golden Lions – which is what the Johannesburg union believe – or if he is now a Gloucester player in England.
Overseas players in the English Premiership are not available for this weekend’s internationals as it falls outside of the official window.
But while the Bok coach said he could’ve forced the issue that would’ve seen Mostert line up in the No 5 jersey on Saturday, he chose rather not to, and it seems as if Mostert will be announced as a Gloucester player later this week.
“It’s such a touchy thing at this stage, and for him personally, to just settle in at Gloucester, I decided not to involve him for this weekend – for him personally just to settle into his new club,” Erasmus said at a press conference in London on Monday.
“I think, if we went into the detail, we could’ve selected him, but it’s not worth going into that.
“He’s a great player and he started most of the Test matches at five for us. But then again, we are fortunate in that Pieter-Steph has played there a lot for us. Lood de Jager is fit again, RG Snyman is here, so we’ve got some options.
“We will miss him, but I think it’s just fair to give him proper time to settle in.”
But while there is enough experienced cover at No 5, it is not the same at fullback and scrumhalf, where Willie le Roux and Faf de Klerk are also not available for the Twickenham Test.
Le Roux’s absence could see Damian Willemse finally given a run in the No 15 jersey, although Erasmus could also call on Gio Aplon – who plays in Japan – in the last line of defence.
French-based Cheslin Kolbe won’t play this weekend either, but there is a ready-made replacement in Sbu Nkosi.
“When we agreed to this Test match, we knew it was going to be that way. Obviously there are some positive spin-offs – not just financially – but that doesn’t really count for me. It’s more about getting another Test match before the World Cup,” Erasmus said.
Lood de Jager and JD Schickerling on the move during the Springboks' afternoon training session in London. pic.twitter.com/8FkuilOwfE
“By not having guys like Faf, Willie and those guys available for this match, it obviously puts on some pressure in terms of results.
“But in terms of seeing some other guys at a full Twickenham under pressure, against a good English team, we’ll get some answers and see some talent. So, there’s an upside.”