Cape Town – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says he is unlikely to bring in more overseas-based players between now and next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
With last weekend’s 12-11 loss to England falling outside of the World Rugby international window, Erasmus rushed back six overseas-based players for this Saturday’s clash against France in Paris.
They are Willie le Roux (Wasps, England), Faf de Klerk (Sale), Vincent Koch (Saracens), Franco Mostert (Gloucester), Francois Louw (Bath) and Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse).
In addition, 36-year-old Japan-based Gio Aplon was also added the current squad prior to departure for the United Kingdom.
Looking ahead, Erasmus hinted that he may well be satisfied with his current squad.
“I do have my eyes on a few guys in key positions if we have to bring someone in,” he said.
“A guy like Pat Lambie or Bismarck du Plessis, you know what you have in them, but unless we have big injuries, I don’t think we will have more overseas guys involved than what we have currently in our team.
“We have generally had about 34 or 36 players in our squad, but we are obviously keeping an eye on the World Cup where you can only take a squad of 31,” he said on Thursday.
“A few guys will have to fall out, and we still have a couple of guys back home who are injured.”
Erasmus’ decision effectively shuts the door on a number of other overseas-based players, including Frans Steyn (Montpellier), Cobus Reinach (Northampton) and Jan Serfontein (Montpellier) among others, who have all been mooted as possible additions to the set-up going forward.
Saturday’s clash at the Stade de France kicks off at 22:05 (SA time).
Players to watch:
For France: One player who will need little motivation for the home side is Louis Picamoles. The behemoth number eight is a superb ball carrier and will be determined to get his side over the advantage line with some barnstorming runs. However, the 32-year-old’s game is not just about brute force as he also has some subtleties in his armoury and his ability to offload in the tackle makes him particularly dangerous.
For South Africa: After delivering one of his worst performances in a green and gold jersey, in last weekend’s loss to England, Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx can consider himself fortunate to be in the starting line-up for this encounter. At his best, Marx is one of the world’s best players and his nomination for the World Rugby Player of the Year award is testament to that. His ball carrying and prowess at the breakdown is excellent but in that Test against England his lineout throw-ins were poor and one of the main reasons for the Boks’ defeat. He will be determined to improve in that department against France.
Head-to-head: The battle between the two flyhalves is always important and both France’s Camille Lopez and Handre Pollard of the Springboks will be determined to prove their worth to their respective sides, albeit for different reasons. Lopez is a man on a mission. He makes his return to the Test arena after an 18-month break due to a serious ankle injury and will be keen to repay the faith shown in him by his coach. Meanwhile, Pollard will be keen to deliver an improved performance after offering little on attack against England and missed a vital penalty late on in that clash. Both pivots will be expected to dictate the pace of the game and lead the way in the playmaking department.
2018: South Africa won 18-17 in Paris
2017: South Africa won 35-12 in Johannesburg
2017: South Africa won 37-15 in Durban
2017: South Africa won 37-14 in Pretoria
2013: South Africa won 19-10 in Paris
2010: South Africa won 42-17 in Cape Town
2009: France won 20-13 in Toulouse
2006: France won 36-26 in Cape Town
15 Maxime Medard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Damian Penaud, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Mathieu Babillot, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Gael Fickou
15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe