Bok squad for Wales reveals Rassie’s greater plans

Cape Town – The international rugby season is approaching at a rapid pace, and we now have a far clearer idea of the direction that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is moving in.

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Siya Kolisi will captain the Springboks in three Tests against England, but the more immediate assignment is a one-off Test against Wales in Washington DC this weekend. Based on the squad that Erasmus has taken to the States, we can begin to predict who he is backing to get the job done against Eddie Jones’ men in the more significant England series.

Erasmus has named a squad of 26 for the trip to Washington, which means that 17 are left behind with the sole aim of doing the business against England. Five of those are overseas-based players who were not considered for the Wales Test.

There is nothing to say that a player who plays against Wales cannot play against England too, but Erasmus has a clear plan and has effectively identified two squads with the series against England the priority.

We can, for example, now confirm that Handre Pollard is Erasmus’s first-choice flyhalf.

Elton Jantjies and Curwin Bosch are both on the plane to Washington, while Pollard has been left in South Africa.

Sharks flyhalf Robert du Preez, meanwhile, is also one of the 17 players not involved in the Wales match. This could be viewed as another clue that Erasmus will be turning to him as bench cover for Pollard while Jantjies misses out altogether against England.

Du Preez is, after all, more Pollard-like than Jantjies.

At scrumhalf, it is difficult to know what Erasmus is thinking. He has taken the uncapped trio of Cameron Wright, Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl to America, while the overseas-based Faf de Klerk will come into the reckoning for England.

De Klerk, given his form this year and the fact that he does at least have 11 Tests to his name, will be the favourite to start against England on June 9.

At centre, Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am have been left at home, confirming suggestions that they are being lined up to play against England.

Jesse Kriel has been in superb form in 2018 and is in the squad to face Wales, while the Sharks’ Andre Esterhuizen looks set to start in Washington too.

Things are equally revealing at wing, where Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sbu Nkosi have been left at home.

Dyantyi, in particular, has been fantastic for the Lions this year and is expected to start against England, while Willie le Roux is also believed to be an option out wide.

Frans Steyn, meanwhile, is an option at both No 12 and at fullback while Warrick Gelant will get his chance to impress against Wales.

In the pack, Erasmus has taken all of his available hookers in Chiliboy Ralepelle, Bongi Mbonambi and Akker van der Merwe. Bismarck du Plessis is the fourth hooker in the squad but will be available exclusively for the England series.

Tendai Mtawarira and Trevor Nyakane are the two props Erasmus has left behind for Wales, while all of Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe and Ox Nche will all hope to feature in that match.

At lock, RG Snyman and Franco Mostert have the week off, but it is hard to see Erasmus not backing Pieter-Steph du Toit against England. Du Toit will captain the Boks against Wales, and that decision perhaps means that he will have to be content for a place on the bench at Ellis Park on June 9.

In the loose trio, we know that Kolisi will start at No 6 against England.

Duane Vermeulen is expected to be at the back of the scrum, while the decision to leave hard-hitting Sharks No 7 Jean-Luc du Preez at home for the next week suggests that he could have a big role to play against England too.

Things can still change in the next 10 days, but Erasmus’s plans for the Springboks are now starting to emerge.

The Springbok squad to face Wales in Washington (in order of name, position, franchise, Test caps, points):

Forwards (16):

Nizaam Carr (loose forward, Stormers, 5, 0)
Dan du Preez (loose forward, Sharks, 3, 0)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock, Stormers, 32, 20 – 4t)
Thomas du Toit (prop, Sharks, uncapped)
Jason Jenkins (lock, Bulls, uncapped)
Steven Kitshoff (prop, Stormers, 23, 5 – 1t)
Wilco Louw (prop, Stormers, 5, 0)
Frans Malherbe (prop, Stormers, 17, 0)
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker, Stormers, 14, 5 – 1t)
Oupa Mohojé (loose forward, Cheetahs 18, 0)
Ox Nche (prop, Cheetahs, uncapped)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (loose forward, Stormers, uncapped)
Marvin Orie (lock, Lions, uncapped)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker, Sharks 23, 5 – 1t)
Kwagga Smith (loose forward, Lions, uncapped)
Akker van der Merwe (hooker, Sharks, uncapped)

Backs (10):

Curwin Bosch (utility back Sharks, 1, 0)
André Esterhuizen (centre, Sharks, uncapped)
Warrick Gelant (fullback, Bulls, 2, 5 – 1t)
Travis Ismaiel (wing, Bulls, uncapped)
Elton Jantjies (flyhalf, Lions, 23, 203 – 2t, 38c, 39p)
Jesse Kriel (centre, Bulls, 29, 40 – 8t)
Makazole Mapimpi (wing, Sharks, uncapped)
Embrose Papier (scrumhalf, Bulls, uncapped)
Ivan van Zyl (scrumhalf, Bulls, uncapped)
Cameron Wright (scrumhalf, Sharks, uncapped)

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