The Springboks may have vanquished the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship opener, but it is the All Blacks who have been in their cross hairs for the past few months.
The sides meet in Wellington on Saturday, and despite some sterling individual performances against the Wallabies at Ellis Park at the weekend‚ Bok coach Rassie Erasmus is likely to stick to his plans for this encounter.
“There are 13 guys already in New Zealand‚” said Erasmus about the advance party he dispatched there last Thursday.
“Eight will join them with the coaches and then there’s 10 flying.”
His team’s 35-17 victory over Australia was not without hiccups‚ but it was convincing enough to provide the coach food for thought.
“The guys who are over there already know they will be in the mix in the 23, but there is no guarantee that they will start‚” he said.
“The guys flying on Saturday know some of them might start and some may be on the bench.”
Erasmus‚ the rest of the coaching staff and eight players departed for Singapore on Saturday night.
From there they flew to Christchurch before doing a short hop over the Cook Strait to Wellington.
“Logistically, it is always a challenge to book tickets in advance‚” said the coach.
“We’ll sit on the plane and do our analyses.
“The nice thing is we’ll have guys who are used to the time zones and have acclimatised.
“A lot of them will lack game time, but at least they will be fresh. We will only select the team on the flight. There are a few guys from this game that will make us think.”
He will have plenty of time to ponder his selections.
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies made a dream debut, but he is unlikely to unseat Faf de Klerk for a starting spot.
Tendai Mtawarira‚ Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane scrummed with authoritative force against Australia but Steven Kitshoff‚ Malcolm Marx and Frans Malherbe are the designated starters for Wellington‚ as is Handre Pollard at flyhalf and Willie le Roux at fullback.
“He was just awesome‚” said Erasmus about Jantjies. “Hopefully he can just grow from here.
“His confidence is high now, but the opposition will just be tougher and tougher and the World Cup lies ahead.
“But it was a great start and he can be very proud of the performance.”
Cobus Reinach too shone when he came on.
“Things can change very quickly in a week injury-wise and form-wise‚” added the coach. “We had to try a few things to see who are the right guys.
“Who fits in and who can adapt to the way we want to do things. Now we know who is available and who can do what. Now it is a matter of consolidating.”
The eight players who travelled on Saturday evening were Eben Etzebeth‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Rynhardt Elstadt‚ Nyakane‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Herschel Jantjies and Mbonambi.
Marcell Coetzee‚ Francois Louw‚ Lood de Jager‚ Mtawarira‚ Schalk Brits‚ Reinach‚ Sbu Nkosi‚ Makazole Mapimpi‚ Frans Steyn and Vincent Koch left on Sunday.
A further four players, Lizo Gqoboka‚ Warrick Gelant‚ Marvin Orie and Andre Esterhuizen‚ will be joining the Springboks in New Zealand during the next few days.
Marco van Staden and Dillyn Leyds have been released to their province until the Springboks return from their tour.
The full tour squad is:
Forwards: Schalk Brits (Bulls)‚ Marcell Coetzee (Ulster)‚ Lood de Jager (Bulls)‚ Thomas du Toit (Sharks)‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers)‚ Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse)‚ Eben Etzebeth (Stormers)‚ Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls)‚ Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)‚ Vincent Koch (Saracens)‚ Francois Louw (Bath)‚ Frans Malherbe (Stormers)‚ Malcolm Marx (Lions)‚ Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers)‚ Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)‚ Franco Mostert (Gloucester)‚ Trevor Nyakane (Bulls)‚ Marvin Orie (Lions)‚ Kwagga Smith (Lions)‚ RG Snyman (Bulls)‚ Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
Backs: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks)‚ Damian de Allende (Stormers)‚ Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks)‚ Andre Esterhuizen (Sharks)‚ Warrick Gelant (Bulls)‚ Elton Jantjies (Lions)‚ Herschel Jantjies (Stormers)‚ Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse)‚ Jesse Kriel (Bulls)‚ Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks)‚ Sbu Nkosi (Sharks)‚ Willie le Roux (Verblitz)‚ Handré Pollard (Bulls)‚ Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints)‚ Frans Steyn (Montpellier)
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