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Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus a hard man to persuade

09 October 2019 - 11:44 By Liam Del Carme In Kobe
South Africa's head coach Rassie Erasmus (C) takes part in a training session at the Steelers Training Ground in Kobe on October 6, 2019, during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup.
South Africa's head coach Rassie Erasmus (C) takes part in a training session at the Steelers Training Ground in Kobe on October 6, 2019, during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Image: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

The courage of his convictions rather than outstanding individual performances in his team’s 66-7 win over 14-man Canada will drive Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’s selections for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup (RWC).

Although his team hit some high notes in the opening half-hour in their romp over Canada on Tuesday‚ the Springboks were a little off key in the second half accumulating just 17 points while also conceding a try against a team who had early on been reduced to 14 men.

Still there were some outstanding performances‚ most notably from man of the match lock RG Snyman‚ as well as scrumhalf Cobus Reinach who became the fastest scorer of a hat trick in a RWC match. He dotted down three times inside the first 22 minutes.

“He played well‚” Erasmus said of Snyman. “I guess you always have to see things in context.

“The stiffer the opposition is the less time you get in your decision-making‚ the pressure is higher‚ the stakes are higher. In a game like this‚ especially against a team who got a red card‚ you know they can’t have the same line speed.

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“I don’t want to take anything away from RG because he was phenomenal‚ he was fantastic.

“I thought his decisions were good especially when he was looking for the offload. He carried hard before he looked for the offload so there was nice balance in his game‚ but we can’t look at this specific game against Canada.”

It is not that Erasmus is hard to please. He’s just difficult to persuade.

“When you go into a quarterfinal against New Zealand where there is more pressure it is totally different to the game we played against Canada. He was fantastic and that’s why he was always in the mix in the A side. It was good to get him through a 80-minute shift.

“I thought he contested well in the lineout‚ he scrummed well‚ he mauled well. He had a good performance.” Reinach‚ too‚ shone before he was taken off in the 51st minute.

“We are fortunate to have three quality No 9s here‚” said the coach. “Between him Faf [de Klerk] and Herschel [Jantjies] we’ve spread the workload nicely. We have no injuries currently.

“Of our squad of 31 we don’t have a player who would not be available for the playoffs. We have a clean bill of health.”

Erasmus then pointed to the lineouts‚ an area in which his team have soared. “I don’t think we’ve lost a lineout in the tournament yet. Again Schalk [Brits] was the hooker.”

The other experienced campaigner who impressed the coach was Frans Steyn.

“It was good to see Frans go another 80 minutes and handling the speed and pace of Test match rugby. I think sometimes it is tough to come from the French league. I always knew he had talent‚ desire and competitiveness.

“It was also good to see Siya [Kolisi] come through another good 80 [minutes] playing the standard of rugby I know he can play.

“I think we are in a good position when it comes to personnel but in the quarterfinal that counts for nothing because if you lose you are out of here.”