June 9, 2018 / 7:38 PM / 5 months ago

New coach wants bolder Boks as he looks to World Cup

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - New South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus wants to ditch the oftentimes too predictable characteristics of Springbok rugby and be bolder in his strategy as the team looks ahead to next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Rugby Union - First Test International - South Africa v England - Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa - June 9, 2018 South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus before the match REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

“We will have to make brave choices ahead of the World Cup. We will lose matches. We have to learn and build. We will have to make bold calls. We cannot always be conservative,” he told a news conference after his side scraped to a 42-39 win over England in the first of their three-test series.

The win at Ellis Park on Saturday came in Erasmus’s second game in charge and, despite the narrow margin of victory, proved a major morale booster after South Africa, who have slipped to seventh in the world rankings, had forced their way back after going 24-3 down in the 17th minute.

“It certainly wasn’t the start we wanted in our first test at home and I was worried, because we had a lot of young players against a very experienced England side.

“It certainly could’ve gone from bad to worse, but credit to Siya (Kolisi), Duane (Vermeulen), Beast (Mtawarira) and Handre (Pollard), our senior players, for getting us back on track. Still, we only scraped through in the end and we made too many errors, so there is a lot for us to work on.

“When we managed to keep the ball, England were under the same stress we were early in the game. I’m proud of the guys –- they showed character and it’s something we can take forward.”

But Erasmus said success had been narrow.

“They could have put us away. We also could have put them away. We were sloppy at some stages when we could have been clinical.

“It will be a massive one in Bloemfontein,” he said of next Saturday’s second test.

The last match of the series is at Newlands in Cape Town on June 23.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon

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