'We have to know who will be the next 10‚' says Bok coach Erasmus
Frans Steyn's appearance on the bench for Springboks against the All Blacks will not only be his first game against the All Blacks in nearly seven years‚ but his most important one in the context of the World Cup plans.
The last time Steyn played against the All Blacks‚ it was in the 21-11 defeat in Dunedin on September 15‚ 2012.
It was the last time he started a Test for the Boks and only played a further five Tests.
In the 2019 context under current Springbok coach Johan “Rassie” Erasmus‚ he's the experienced joker in the backline pack‚ but his ability to mix it up at 10 or 12 will be tested.
He's the utility back and should there be an injury issue with Handre Pollard‚ who'll be starting‚ Steyn could be pressed into service at 10.
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Erasmus is aware of this and while knowing that Pollard and Elton Jantjies are his first choice pivots‚ every eventuality has to be prepared for.
New Zealand know this all too well as in 2011‚ they lost their first choice 10's in Dan Carter and Aaron Cruden to injury.
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This isn't to say Steyn‚ who was a World Cup winner at 19 and helped the Boks win against the All Blacks in Hamilton in 2009‚ will be the Boks' Donald‚ but when you prepare‚ you hardly fail.
“We have to know who will be the next 10. We've got Damian Willemse back in SA who is injured.
"If Handre gets injured‚ Elton will be the next 10‚ but this is an opportunity to see how things go if we slot Frans in at 10 or 12.
"It's not the best of positions to try that but it is an opportunity‚” Erasmus said.
“We had a nice‚ honest chat and the whole group knows this is a big game for us but we're also preparing for the World Cup in saying that.
"With all respect to New Zealand‚ we have to try new things. Elton and Handre will go to the World Cup as the two 10's but things can happen and there could be injuries.”
The biggest loser in a Steyn upsurge in form could be Andre Esterhuizen‚ who didn't make the match-day 23 cut.
With the clarity Erasmus has with his first-choice centres in Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am at 12 and 13‚ there's not a lot of wriggle room.
With Jesse Kriel on the bench‚ it's clear Erasmus's World Cup 31 may come together properly after the Wellington game on Saturday.
With Steyn having a decent outing against Australia‚ more will be expected of him against a team he's generally played well against.
A World Cup dream could be made or broken at the Westpac Stadium.