June 17, 2018 / 7:02 AM / 5 months ago

Rugby - Elated Erasmus to assess Bok options in third test

BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus will make changes for the third test against England in Cape Town on Saturday with the series wrapped up and next year’s World Cup very much on his mind.

FILE PHOTO: South Africa's rugby team new coach Rassie Erasmus gestures during a media briefing in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The Springboks took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-test series with what turned out to be a comfortable 23-12 victory in Bloemfontein on Saturday, despite having to come back from an early deficit for the second week running.

The Boks trailed 12-0 after 13 minutes, but seized control of the game, as they had the week before at Ellis Park when they roared back from 24-3 down to win 42-39.

“Being behind by only 12 points down and not 24 points helped a bit, but we got our composure back quicker than last week,” Erasmus told reporters.

“There were still a lot of mistakes, but I thought the character the guys showed was enough to win the game. What the players learned last week and again this week will help them going into the future.

“But we don’t want to start like that again. Bad penalties that we gave away, bad discipline, a lot of things that we did wrong.

“It is nice to have the series wrapped up. Next week we want to try and win 3-0. But we will try a few new things because now we have the opportunity to put different guys in different positions under pressure.”

BUILDING CAPACITY

The World Cup in Japan is 15 months away and Erasmus says he will use the Newlands test, as well as the up-coming Rugby Championship and end-of-season European tour, to sort through the puzzle of his squad for the global showpiece finals.

“When you put a 31-man World Cup squad together, if you just take the props, hookers and the nines that is 12 positions already taken. If you want to build a squad you need to try a few things,” he says.

“Who can cover 10, 12 and 15, who can cover six, seven and eight? If we don’t learn that in the next couple of months, we won’t be able to select a World Cup squad knowing that and we will have to guess a lot.

“Next week allows us to try a few things and that does not mean that we are making that test less important. While we are trying to win, we are also trying to build our capacities, depth, experience and knowledge.”

Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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