Eight black players to boost Boks

Task was not difficult because Super Rugby coaches were consulted, says Erasmus

Bongi Mbonambi during the Springbok team training session at St Stithians College in Johannesburg
Bongi Mbonambi during the Springbok team training session at St Stithians College in Johannesburg
Image: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

The average age of Rassie Erasmus’s side to play England at Ellis Park tomorrow is 25‚ but in perhaps a more illuminating pointer to the future, he selected eight black players to meet the side in white.

Last week, he selected seven black players in an experimental side that played Wales and this week, in compiling his best available unit‚ he went one better.

“It wasn’t difficult‚” he said when asked about his assembly of one of the most representative squads in Bok history.

“We followed the players closely in Super Rugby.

“We were in communication with the Super Rugby coaches. We need to build squad depth. I’m very comfortable.”

The starting team features debutants lock RG Snyman‚ as well as wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’bu Nkosi.

“S’bu was close to making the side last year already‚” Erasmus said.

“This year he’s been physical and doing a lot of great work on attack and defence and has improved in the areas which we thought he may be vulnerable.

“Aphiwe is an exciting youngster. He’s playing at home. He has performed consistently well at centre and wing for the Lions.
“RG has without a doubt been one of the stand-out second rowers in South Africa. Form has been rewarded for those guys‚” he said, outlining the virtues that earned the newcomers the nod.

The team also features a return for fullback Willie le Roux‚ who enjoyed a stellar season with Wasps. The last time he played for the Boks was in Italy in 2016.

Tighthead Trevor Nyakane has a niggle and has been bracketed with Wilco Louw in the starting team.

The Bok bench features last week’s debutants Ivan van Zyl‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Akker van der Merwe and Sikhumbuzo Notshe. The Bok team: Willie le Roux; S’Busiso Nkosi‚ Lukhanyo Am‚ Damian de Allende‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard‚ Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen‚ Jean-Luc du Preez‚ Siya Kolisi (captain); Franco Mostert‚ RG Snyman; Trevor Nyakane/Wilco Louw‚ Bongi Mbonambi‚ Tendai Mtawarira. Substitutes: Akker van der Merwe‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Sikhumbuzo Notshe; Ivan van Zyl‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Warrick Gelant. Meanwhile, Erasmus sought to flesh out the sketchy details of Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn’s sudden withdrawal from the squad.

SA Rugby, in a terse e-mail on Wednesday, said 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‚” the coach said.

“It is taking time for them to get cleared. It has taken too long 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.