Cape Town – The Springboks left for their northern hemisphere tour late on Saturday night with just one specialist loosehead prop in their 36-man squad.
Steven Kitshoff is that man, and he will carry a massive load given that the 107-Test veteran Tendai Mtawarira is missing the tour with a neck injury.
Trevor Nyakane and Thomas du Toit are the other loosehead options, but it is a stretch to call them specialists in the position given that they have been backed at tighthead by the Bulls and Sharks, respectively, in recent times.
There has been no issue at tighthead, where the Boks have boasted serious depth for a few years now.
Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Vincent Koch and Ruan Dreyer have all shared that load, but the No 1 jersey has been all about Mtawarira and, now, Kitshoff.
“It will be tested,” said Erasmus of the depth at loosehead.
“Some say it will go against us and others say it will go for us, but having the luxury of Thomas being able to play loosehead and tighthead for us is a benefit for us.
“Having Trevor, who can play loosehead and tighthead, is a benefit to us now too.
“I think Kitshy (Kitshoff) has laid down the marker as our No 1, so having guys on the bench who can swing is a great thing in many cases.”
Another major issue for the Boks is that Nyakane has not played a lot of rugby in 2018, with conditioning issues and then a rib injury limiting his time on the park with the Bulls.
Both Nyakane and Du Toit will have to hit the ground running in Europe.
“On the other hand, I am a bit nervous because we’re playing in the northern hemisphere where scrum penalties get rewarded if one team is dominant,” Erasmus added.
“I think we’ll learn our lessons and, in my heart, I feel that we’re okay. I think we’ve got great depth at prop.”
The Boks tackle England (London, November 3), France (Paris, November 10), Scotland (Edinburgh, November 17) and Wales (Cardiff, November 24) on their tour.
The Springbok squad for the 2018 Outgoing Tour (in order of name, surname, position, province, Test caps, Test points):
Schalk Brits (Hooker, Unattached, 11, 5 – 1t), Lood de Jager (Lock, Blue Bulls, 36, 20 – 4t), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Loose forward / Lock, Western Province, 42, 20 – 4t), Thomas du Toit (Prop, Sharks, 5, 0), Eben Etzebeth (Lock, Western Province, 73, 15 – 3t), Steven Kitshoff (Prop, Western Province, 33, 5 – 1t), Vincent Koch (Prop, Saracens, England, 10, 0), Siya Kolisi (captain – Loose forward, Western Province, 37, 25 – 5t), Francois Louw (Loose forward, Bath, England, 62, 45, – 9t), Wilco Louw (Prop, Western Province, 11, 0), Frans Malherbe (Prop, Western Province, 25, 0), Malcolm Marx (Hooker, Golden Lions, 20, 20 – 4t), Bongi Mbonambi (Hooker, Western Province, 22, 10 – 2t), Franco Mostert (Lock, Golden Lions, 26, 5 – 1t), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Loose forward, Western Province, 6, 0), Trevor Nyakane (Prop, Blue Bulls, 37, 5 – 1t), JD Schickerling (Lock, Western Province, uncapped), RG Snyman (Lock, Honda Heat, Japan, 8, 0), Duane Vermeulen (Loose forward, Kubota Spears, Japan, 42, 15 – 3t), Warren Whiteley (Loose forward, Golden Lions, 21, 15 – 3t)
Gio Aplon (Wing / Fullback, Toyota Verblitz, Japan, 17, 25 – 5t), Damian de Allende (Centre, Western Province, 33, 20 – 4t), Aphiwe Dyantyi (Wing, Golden Lions, 9, 30 – 6t), André Esterhuizen (Centre, Munakata Sanix Blues, Japan, 5, 0), Elton Jantjies (Flyhalf, Golden Lions, 29, 223 – 2t, 42c, 43p), Cheslin Kolbe (Wing / Fullback, Toulouse, France, 4, 10 – 2t), Jesse Kriel (Centre, Blue Bulls, 36, 50 – 10t), Wille le Roux (Fullback, Wasps, England, 50, 60 – 12t), Ruhan Nel (Centre, Western province, upcapped), Sbu Nkosi (Wing, Sharks, 3, 10 – 2t), Embrose Papier (Scrumhalf, Blue Bulls, 4, 0), Sergeal Petersen (Wing, Western Province, uncapped), Handré Pollard (Flyhalf, Blue Bulls, 35, 293 – 3t, 55c, 53p, 3d), Louis Schreuder (Scrumhalf, Sharks, 1, 0), Ivan van Zyl (Scrumhalf, Blue Bulls, 3, 0), Damian Willemse (Flyhalf / Fullback, Western Province, 3, 0)