CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South African Rugby’s collective player management plan that puts national team interests above Super Rugby ambitions ahead of the World Cup in Japan could be tested the over the coming months, according to Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.
The programme for the country’s four Super Rugby franchises seeks to balance the workload of key individuals, and while it was off to a good start, Erasmus admitted it was early days.
There have already been two significant scares, with lock Lood de Jager ruled out of the remainder of the Super Rugby season with a shoulder problem and number eight Warren Whiteley facing at least another month on the sidelines with a reoccurrence of a pectoral muscle injury.
“We are only in week three,” Erasmus told reporters. “Warren and Lood got injured, but not because they were overplayed. When we get to round seven, eight, we will see which players are being played too much.
“When the pressure is on and it comes to play-off matches and there are injuries, that is where we might be tested.
“But there hasn’t been one coach who has said they will not back us in terms of our World Cup planning.”
Erasmus is hoping to limit the workload of players on and off the pitch to keep them as fresh as possible for Japan — a policy also followed in New Zealand and Australia.
“It (the plan) includes gametime, regeneration weeks, booster weeks, how many weeks a player must rest, what are the workouts in the week – is it speed or endurance?
“We have spoken about every single player possibly on the radar and at this stage everybody has worked with us.”
Erasmus takes his squad to the World Cup three weeks before the start, and will play a friendly international against Japan on Sept. 6 that serves as a final warm-up fixture.
The coach said meticulous planning had gone into every detail of their stay in the country.
“We have planned it out to the last minute and second, the same as the other teams, but it is unfamiliar territory for all of us.
“It is not like we are all going to Scotland to play there, or France, it is really neutral territory,” he said.
Reporting By Nick Said, editing by Nick Mulvenney