Erasmus names two uncapped players for Rugby Championship against Argentina
In keeping with his strategy to spread game time in his squad‚ Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has named two uncapped players in his match day-23 for Saturday’s opening Rugby Championships clash against Argentina at King’s Park.
Wildly gifted Stormers utility back Damian Willemse and flank Marco van Staden have been introduced to the bench in a team that sees sweeping changes from the one that did duty in the third Test against England in June.
The coach didn’t say it in so many words on Thursday‚ but this is an evolving side and more changes are on the cards by the time the team host the Wallabies and the All Blacks in their last two matches in the tournament.
There will be pressure to win those home Tests and Erasmus was remarkably precise when asked how many changes he expects to make to Saturday’s starting team for those engagements at the climax of the tournament.
“Four‚ yes four‚” he said while nodding.
Some of those changes will come as a result of some players’ commitments overseas‚ but there will also be a natural culling process.
For his selection on Saturday‚ Erasmus has had to rearrange his backrow in the absence of hulking No8 Duane Vermeulen.
Former captain Warren Whiteley starts at No8‚ current captain Siya Kolisi at seven and Francois Louw is in the fetcher’s role at six.
“Francois comes in at openside where Siya played before‚” said Erasmus.
“Siya moves back to blindside where he always played until three‚ four years ago.”
Erasmus stressed the need for balance in his backrow.
Due to limited activity in recent weeks‚ the coach does not expect Louw to last the full 80 minutes.
Another player he expects to substitute is returning former captain and lock Eben Etzebeth.
“It is nice to have a leadership group in the pack that consists of Warren‚ Siya‚ Pieter-Steph (du Toit) and Eben who have all captained the Boks‚ and Francois Louw who captains Bath.
"We are starting to build some experience there.”
The team is:
Willie le Roux; Makazole Mapimpi‚ Lukhanyo Am‚ Andre Esterhuizen‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard‚ Faf de Klerk; Warren Whiteley‚ Siya Kolisi (captain)‚ Francois Louw; Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Tendai Mtawarira.
Bongi Mbonambi‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Marvin Orie‚ Marco van Staden; Embrose Papier‚ Lionel Mapoe‚ Damian Willemse.