DURBAN – This time last year Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus was stressing about his scrumhalf depth behind Faf de Klerk, but now a position of weakness has become a strength.
Going into Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against the Pumas in Salta, Erasmus will be equally happy to start one of De Klerk, Herschel Jantjies or Cobus Reinach whereas this time last year he was puzzling over Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier as his alternative to De Klerk.
Historically, South Africa has always been blessed with first-rate scrumhalves but following the retirement of the impeccable Fourie du Preez after the 2015 World Cup, the No 9 jersey has been the sole preserve of De Klerk, with little competition.
In 2016, Allister Coetzee opted for De Klerk ahead of Rudy Paige, who had been the understudy to Du Preez at the World Cup, but with Paige fading from the picture, Erasmus last year trialled Papier and Van Zyl as the back-up to De Klerk.
Neither firmly put up their hand... And the situation became more complicated in Super Rugby this year when those two (both of them Bulls players) found themselves behind Andre Warner at the Pretoria-based franchise.