Cape Town – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says that the players staying in South Africa this week are not guaranteed a start against England.
Erasmus, having picked an extended squad of 43 players for four Tests in June, has taken a squad of 26 to Washington DC for this weekend’s unique one-off Test against Wales.
It means that 17 players, including five overseas-based players who were not available for the Wales Test, have been left behind to begin preparations for the three-Test series against England.
On the surface, it seems that Erasmus will pick those not featuring against Wales for the first Test against England in Johannesburg on June 9.
But, while the new coach acknowledges that the travel demands of this week have forced him into thinking strategically about selection, Erasmus says that anyone playing against Wales this weekend can make a statement ahead of the England series.
“We are making sure that we have fresh guys staying here for the England Test match, but by no means are those guys guaranteed to start in that game,” Erasmus told media on Monday.
“We looked at a combination of things. We looked at some guys’ age with the amount of travelling in the last two weeks and the amount of minutes, we had to look at the way the Sharks travelled now across time zones (they played the Jaguares in Argentina this past weekend) … there are a few things that determined how we picked the sides.”
Erasmus added that he had picked two sides that he considered to be as strong as possible, dismissing suggestions that the players that would play against Wales would form a ‘B-team’.
“If you pick two sides and they play against each other I don’t think you would be able to say which one would win,” Erasmus said.
“I want us to win both.
“For the 26 guys going to the States … go and beat Wales and put down the marker and say that you have an opportunity to play another game and put your hand up to start against England.”