JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Rassie Erasmus admitted his South Africa side have much to work on following their opening 35-17 Rugby Championship success against Australia at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Springbok coach gambled with an experimental side as he sent 13 players to New Zealand this week ahead of their clash in Wellington on July 27, with most considered first-choice selections.
That meant there were first test appearances in four years for scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and loose-forward Marcell Coetzee, and debuts for flanker Rynhard Elstadt, prop Lizo Gqoboka and number nine Herschel Jantjies.
The Boks looked rusty and disjointed at times, especially in defence, but still managed to outscore their opponents five tries to two, with the impressive Jantjies stealing the show with a brace.
“A few guys certainly put their hands up for World Cup selection and although there was some rustiness and all our combinations weren’t settled, we are still happy with the win,” Erasmus told reporters.
“At times we were frustrated with how things went, and we were also lucky as they (Australia) had a try disallowed for a forward pass and lost the ball over the line.
“From a team performance perspective, this isn’t how we want to play, quality wise, and we’re aware of that.”
Jantjies’ accomplished performance will be the massive plus, especially as scrumhalf has been an area of concern for South Africa in recent years.
“I think Herschel showed that he is comfortable at this level, if you consider that he only really made his mark at Super Rugby level this year,” said Erasmus.
“The way he services his box kicks, the technical things, grit on defence, he can only grow from here. The opposition will get tougher and tougher but it’s a great start for him.”
The Boks remain overseas after next weekend’s New Zealand clash, staying in camp ahead of their final game of the shortened Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina in Salta on Aug. 10.
“We will fly a few more players and management over on Sunday and perhaps some more players on Monday, so that we’ll have a squad of around 34 in New Zealand,” the coach confirmed.
Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Tony Lawrence