JOHANNESBURG – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is expecting Wales to play a New Zealand style of rugby in this weekend’s off-Test in Washington DC.
It will be Erasmus’ first Test in charge since assuming the role of head coach earlier this season. A relatively young and inexperienced Bok team will run out in the capital of the US on Saturday and come up against a Scarlets-heavy Wales outfit.
Scarlets, who lost the PRO14 final to Leinster last Saturday, are well represented in the Wales touring squad of 30, with 13 players up for selection by head coach Warren Gatland. Both Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac as well as Gatland are New Zealand born - something that hasn’t escaped Erasmus’ mind.
“I know this Wales team. I played against the Scarlets, Cardiff, the Ospreys and the Dragons (when he was in charge at Ireland’s Munster for two years) ... I know the players,” said Erasmus.
“The Scarlets and Wales are coached by New Zealanders so you can expect them to play a New Zealand brand of rugby. Scarlets certainly play that way ... it’s going to be challenge for us first up.”
The Wales team will be led by lock Cory Hill and will include two men who toured with the British and Irish Lions last year, namely George North and Ross Moriarty. Other Lions players who won’t be on tour include Alun Wyn Jones, Toby Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny.
It’s a big ask first up for Erasmus and his young squad; travelling to the US on Wednesday night, but the new coach said he was ready for the challenge.
“The first week is always a little tricky, a little tense. One’s got to get all your ducks in a row, but it helps that I’ve been here before, as an assistant,” said Erasmus.
“I’ve picked up a lot of experience from the previous years of being involved, when Peter (de Villiers), Heyneke (Meyer), and Allister (Coetzee) were coaching the team.”