Already with an abundance of props putting up their hands with their ability to anchor the scrums and serve as additional ball carriers, the renaissance of the Springboks looks set to become stronger under Erasmus.
He may have an obvious preference for veteran prop Tendai Mtawarira at loosehead and Frans Malherbe at tighthead as his front-line front-rowers but it will be difficult to ignore the advances made by the likes of Trevor Nyakane, Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Lizo Gqoboka, Wilco Louw, Coenie Oosthuizen and Ox Nche.
While Erasmus will be looking for continuity from the series win against England in June when his team takes on Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, the reality is that the Springboks will need to be flexible when it comes to handing all their available props some playing time.
As vital as Mtawarira will be to the team heading towards next year’s World Cup in Japan, the veteran Sharks man will need to be managed sparingly between club and country to ensure that he gets to the Cup fully fit.
It is in looking after the well-being of the likes of Mtawarira and maybe even Malherbe that an opportunity for Kitshoff, Louw, Nyakane and Du Toit will become available.
Then there are players such as Nche and Oosthuizen lurking in the background and chomping at the bit to get their chance, while Gqoboka will again be staking a claim for higher honours as soon as he recovers from his season- ending toe injury.
Former Springbok prop and two-time World Cup winner Os du Randt believes that Erasmus has a healthy mix of experience and youth among his front-rowers to claim dominance not only in the Rugby Championship but at the World Cup as well.
Du Randt, who played alongside Erasmus for the Springboks and the Free State Cheetahs, had been at the heart of developing the likes of Oosthuizen, Nyakane and Nche into world class props and feels that the competition among the props can only be good for the individuals and the team.
“I think definitely guys are stepping up,” said Du Randt, who won the World Cup with the Boks in 1995 and 2007.
“I thought Thomas du Toit moving from loosehead to tighthead was a wrong choice but he proved me wrong.
“He is scrumming really well and suddenly there is an abundance of props in the country.
“All of this creates competition among players and it is the kind of competition that will bring out the best in every player.
“If you are in a position and nobody is pushing to take your spot then it leaves you in a comfort zone.
“I also think competition within a team is good and suddenly the whole team is competitive not only against the opposition but for each other.”
So, as Erasmus mulls over the men that will anchor his team in next weekend’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Durban, it will also serve as a timely reminder in making sure that he finds the right balance and mix among the abundance of talent at prop and in other positions if he is to attain his ultimate goal of winning the World Cup.@vata_ngobeni
Independent on Saturday