June 11, 2018 / 1:20 PM / a year ago

Rugby - Erasmus braced for new tricks from England

BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus is expecting England counterpart Eddie Jones to have “a few plans up his sleeve” for Saturday’s second test in Bloemfontein but has backed his side to adapt to whatever the tourists throw at them.

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/File Photo

The Springboks were stunned by England’s running game in the opening quarter of the first test, where they slipped to a 24-3 deficit before adapting their own plans and roared back to claim a thrilling 42-39 victory at Ellis Park.

Erasmus expects Jones to provide a fresh approach and has welcomed the opportunity for the inexperienced members of his side to have to think on their feet ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“Eddie is sharp, he will have a few plans up his sleeve and that is the only way they (the Boks) are going to learn,” Erasmus told reporters on Monday.

“To be able to change it in the game is the most important thing. Hopefully, if they throw something else at us, the guys will handle it.”

Erasmus sprung a surprise when he called hooker Schalk Brits into the squad, despite the fact that the former Saracens front-rower had retired from rugby after winning the Aviva Premiership final on May 26.

The Bok coach says it is a plan to help younger members of the squad learn from more experienced players.

“The more guys you have that have been there and done that, the young guys rub shoulders with them and learn from them,” Erasmus said. “When you have guys who have played in different competitions and against different countries with different styles, they always bring something to the party.

“He (Brits) will be with us until after the test next week (in Cape Town) and then after that we will reassess.”

But Erasmus suggested he would not always call on his overseas-based contingent through the Rugby Championship against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.

“Not all (overseas players) will be available for the Rugby Championship. A guy like Faf (de Klerk) will be, Duane (Vermeulen) ... we want to try a few things and see how we get along without him.

“Warren Whiteley will be available as well and there are a lot of guys that are missing out (through injury) currently so maybe it (the Rugby Championship) will be a good time to build some leadership without Duane, even though obviously we can call on him.”

Erasmus also allayed fears over a shoulder injury to pivotal flyhalf Handre Pollard that had provided concern after Saturday’s bruising encounter.

“Handre’s shoulder is OK, he will train from today,” Erasmus said.

Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Alison Williams

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