Damian beefs up Boks for turf war

Coach makes three changes to starting line-up for showdown with All Blacks

The Springboks head coach and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus addresses the media during his squad announcement for the South Africa-New Zealand Rugby Championship encounter at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on October 04, 2018.
The Springboks head coach and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus addresses the media during his squad announcement for the South Africa-New Zealand Rugby Championship encounter at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on October 04, 2018.
Image: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has picked the best possible available squad for the hugely anticipated Rugby Championship clash against old foes New Zealand at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday.

Erasmus made three changes to the starting lineup when he named the squad on Thursday, with Damian de Allende‚ Francois Louw and Steven Kitshoff back in the starting squad and Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ who started in the win over the Wallabies last weekend‚ dropping to the bench.

“When you play a team like New Zealand‚ you always pick your best possible available team‚” he said in Pretoria.

He said he would continue to make changes in the coming Test matches. “I am not sure if we want to settle on our best right now because the World Cup is still months away.

“There are a lot of guys who must still come back from injuries‚ Super Rugby still has to be played and there is the end-of-year tour.

“So‚ there are a lot of things we want to try. Look at the All Blacks‚ they have a new centre combination and up until the World Cup‚ we still make a few changes.”

Erasmus is aware that the All Blacks are hurting after their loss to the Boks in Wellington and he expects them to come out with guns blazing at Loftus.

“It is always tough against the All Blacks but our preparations this whole week have been good‚” he said.

“We beat them the last time and in Newlands it was close.

“But they are the number one-ranked team in the world and they are giving everybody 40 to 50 points.

“The team they have selected has sent the right message and we are expecting a physical and tactical battle.

“They will be hurting after that loss about three weeks ago and we expect them to give one hell of a performance.

“But we have to match them.”

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