Cape Town – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus admits that he missed regular scrumhalf Faf de Klerk against England on Saturday.
De Klerk and the rest of the overseas-based Springboks were unavailable for the clash given that it fell outside of an official international window.
While Erasmus is expected to include the likes of Willie le Roux and Francois Louw at some point over the next three Tests, there is more confusion over De Klerk with reports out of England last month suggesting he would not feature for the Boks at all on their northern hemisphere tour.
In De Klerk’s absence, the Boks started Ivan van Zyl (23) at scrumhalf while Embrose Papier (21) came off the bench.
It was always going to be a big ask for two youngsters with limited Test experience to get the job done at Twickenham, but Erasmus said after the match that he was pleased with what he saw.
“I think all of the youngsters did really well,” he said.
“You can’t really expect two young No 9s like Embrose and Ivan to come and control the game like 30-year-olds or 50-cappers.
“I think for them games like this are just a learning curve and there are players around them to help them through times like this.”
Rassie Erasmus was impressed with the performance of 20-year-old Damian Willemse at fullback with Le Roux out.
“I think in those decision-making positions at No 9 and No 15 we did well,” he said.
“We missed Faf, but we always knew we were going to miss him in this game and Willie as well, but I really don’t think the two No 9s and Damian did badly at all.”
The Boks next take on France in Paris on Saturday. Kick-off is at 22:05 (SA time).