Rassie culls six Boks for Mendoza crunch

Rassie Erasmus. File picture
Rassie Erasmus. File picture
Image: Gallo Images

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus trimmed six players from his squad for this week’s tour to Argentina to play the Pumas in round two of the 2018 Rugby Championships.

Lock Marvin Orie‚ and loose forwards Jean-Luc du Preez and Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ scrumhalf Ross Cronje‚ centre Jesse Kriel and wing Lwazi Mvovo will stay behind.

Only Orie featured in the squad against Argentina on Saturday‚ but failed to take the field to add to his one cap earned against Wales in Washington earlier in the season.

The Springboks started their Rugby Championship campaign with a 34-21 win over the Pumas in Durban at the weekend‚ collecting a full haul of five log points for the victory.

That leaves them level with the All Blacks‚ who beat the Wallabies 38-13 in Sydney.

The Boks produced a patchy performance but still managed to score six tries – only the second time they have scored more than five tries in a single Rugby Championship match.

Erasmus has now been in charge for five Tests with the Boks, winning three of those.

They have scored 16 tries in those five Tests.

Under previous coach Allister Coetzee‚ the Boks needed 10 Tests to score as many tries in his first year at the helm in 2016.

Under Heyneke Meyer the Boks took eight Tests to score 16 tries in 2012 and even the reigning World Champion 2008 side under Peter de Villiers needed seven Tests to score 16 or more.

Clearly attack‚ built on a solid pack‚ is taking shape‚ but defensive frailties and slow starts remain some of the major issues plaguing this Bok team.

The Boks trailed at halftime again and only a strong second-half showing when the forwards dominated the collisions‚ saw SA turn it around.

At home overturning deficits is an easier proposition than doing it away and in Mendoza this weekend‚ the Boks will have to make a much better start or face another loss.

“We’re expecting a massive onslaught next week‚ and it will be a very different kind of challenge,” Erasmus said after the win in Durban. “I expect there will be four or five changes to our side.

“We will only travel to Argentina on Monday‚ and I think that the extra day for recovery will do us good.

“We will have to deal with jet lag once we get there‚ though.”

Erasmus will have some selections to consider this week, especially at loose forward where the loose trio seemed a little off balance.

No 8 Warren Whiteley did not have the same power on the gain line as the absent Duane Vermeulen showed in June while openside Francois Louw took some time to grow into the match.

Captain Siya Kolisi also needed 40 minutes at blind side flank before he started to make prominent carries.

“There were a few hiccups with the loose trio [at Kings Park]‚ but it’s a combination that has a good future‚” Erasmus said.

“We have some good options at the moment if you remember that Duane Vermeulen will return [from club commitments in Japan] and Cyle Brink will come back from injury [Brink had surgery last week].

“We can add some bulk to the back row in future if the situation demands it.

“However‚ there will be times‚ as was the case in this game‚ when you need speed in your back row. That speed helped us on this occasion.”