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March 2, 2018

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Erasmus seeks player buy-in to contest for WCup

NEWLY appointed coach Rassie Erasmus says South Africa have the players to contest for the World Cup in Japan next year but adds they will have to buy into his methods fast to be successful.

South African Rugby confirmed yesterday it had appointed its director of rugby Erasmus to coach the Springboks until after the 2023 World Cup in France following two dismal years under Allister Coetzee.

The Boks, two-time World Cup winners, have slipped to No. 6 in the global rankings, but Erasmus does not believe that is a reflection of their potential.

“I think we have got the players, but it comes down to how quickly we can align the players’ and the coaches’ thinking,” Erasmus told reporters.

“If we can do that quickly then I think we can do well at the World Cup.

“Our ranking tells a story, but it is in our hands. I know the players on the ground believe we can quickly get back to No. 2 in the world. But we can only do that by actions and getting results on the park.”

They will have the opportunity to work towards that goal when they host England, the current second best side, for three tests in June, which will be preceded by a dash across the Atlantic to meet Wales in Washington on June 2.

“I know it looks like suicide from the outside, but it is an extra test to prepare for the World Cup,” Erasmus said of the fixture in the United States.

“We will have to juggle a bit and be creative because we play England at altitude at Ellis Park the following week, but I have my plans in place.

“It would be foolish to think you could have one squad go there and then be competitive against the second best team in the world.”

Erasmus and his assistants, Jacques Nienaber, Pieter de Villiers and Mzwandile Stick, have been embedded with the country’s Super Rugby franchises this year, getting a closer look at players in training and providing input to coaches if their opinion is sought.

“I think we undervalue the players we have in South Africa. Sometimes we take too long before we select players,” Erasmus said. “We have got no say in telling a (Super Rugby) player or coach where or when he should play. We are part of their management team as much as they allow us to be. With some teams we sit in on technical meetings and offer input. They have been great.”


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