Erasmus explains Du Plessis and Steyn’s sudden withdrawal from the Bok squad

07 June 2018 - 15:23 By Liam Del Carme
Head Coach Rassie Erasmus of the Springboks during the South African national mens rugby team announcement press conference at Tsogo Sun Montecasino on June 07, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Head Coach Rassie Erasmus of the Springboks during the South African national mens rugby team announcement press conference at Tsogo Sun Montecasino on June 07, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Bok coach Rassie Erasmus on Thursday sought to flesh out the sketchy details of Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn’s sudden withdrawal from the squad for the Test series against England.

SA Rugby in a terse email on Wednesday announced that the pair had withdrawn from the squad due to injury but did not specify the nature of their orthopaedic distress.

“They have small niggles and they have to take scans to get the full results‚” said the coach.

“We wanted them to get some experience in the squad.

"(For them to) rub shoulders with the younger guys.

"It is taking time for them to get cleared there and get clarity. They would only arrive on a Thursday or Friday. It took too long and there wasn’t any clarity‚ so we’d rather stay without them.”

Due to the lack of clarity in SA Rugby’s initial correspondence there had been suggestions that something more sinister was at play.

Steyn‚ in particular‚ has at times found it difficult to play for the Springboks unless the stars were aligned.

“I know the two guys. I made contact with them myself. It is definitely injury problems‚" the coach said.

"They are paid by that club. That club wants to make sure they are fully fit when next season starts. I have no doubt about their commitment.

"For us it just doesn’t make sense to wait another two‚ three days when we can put some more time into the players with us currently.”

On that score Erasmus said a player like centre Andre Esterhuizen was unlucky not to make the squad for Saturday’s clash at Ellis Park.

Esterhuizen delivered a powerful performance in greasy conditions against Wales in Washington last weekend.

“Andre is unfortunate not to play. That makes the decision to leave a player like Frans Steyn easier‚” said Erasmus.

“Lets see how the weekend goes.

"Currently our squad is 41 minus those two. When we cut the squad on Sunday we will take injuries and form into the reckoning.

"If we need to call up somebody we will but at this stage I don’t think we will.”

The coach stressed that this was the time to be bold in Springbok rugby.

“We have to make brave calls and not be in crisis management or survival mode‚" he said.

"The moment we do that we will start making conservative team selections and you go back to the old guys you trust.

“The balance I’m trying to strike is to keep on evolving in terms of trying guys‚ testing them.

"Putting them under pressure. Building leadership in the team. Hopefully winning well doing that.

“After last weekend’s defeat you wanna bounce back and win but I don’t wanna stop trying things otherwise we won’t catch up with the other countries.”

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