CAPE TOWN – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says his decision to select four scrumhalves in his Rugby Championship squad comes down to him wanting to take a closer look at his No 9 stocks.
Erasmus included Faf de Klerk, Ivan van Zyl, Ross Cronjé and Embrose Papier in his 35-man group, and at a press conference in Stellenbosch on Monday, the SA director of rugby explained that at the moment, it’s all about assessing the “three levels” of scrumhalves.
“We know where we’re going with Embrose. He’s a guy who learns something every minute from Faf,” Erasmus said.
“Ivan is that in-between guy. He’s a solid player to start a game with and he’s a very good communicator, so I think the three levels of nines we have in the mix is great.
“But then again, you can’t keep ignoring a No 9 (Cronjé) who takes a team to a Super Rugby final.
“I’ve never coached or worked with Ross, but just like with Ivan – who kept on performing at the start – it’s just fair to have a look at him (Cronjé), and maybe he even starts or he comes into the mix, or maybe we release him after a few weeks.
“But it’ll be good to have a look at him.”
Regarding his inside centre options – with only André Esterhuizen on the list – Erasmus explained that while Montpellier-based Jan Serfontein is still on his radar, he needs time to sort out his injury.
“Damian (de Allende) isn’t officially in the squad because he’s injured, but he’s very close to being there,” he said.
“He might be ready for that first game – I thought he was slowly getting back to his best.
“I think a guy like André Esterhuizen had a tough run in both of the games he started in Wales and Cape Town due to the weather.
“It’s not always the nicest things for the bigger boys to play in wet weather, so I think he should get a fair chance somewhere.
The Springbok squad annouced by Rassie Erasmus for the @CastleLagerSA Rugby Champs include three uncapped players in Cyle Brink, Marco van Staden and Damian Willemse, while Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley are back from injury. #LoveRugby pic.twitter.com/ShF5OwRbvG
“At age-group level Jan beat the Junior All Blacks, so you can never throw those kinds of things away.
“I know he had a pretty bad injury, which he’s busy sorting out.
“I went to see him and he’s very keen to play for us, but he wants to get back to form by playing a few club games, so I don’t foresee him playing in the Championship.”