Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids admits they are keeping an eye on the bigger picture – next year’s Rugby World Cup – as they prepare to take on the Wallabies in two Rugby Championship matches over the next two weekends.
In the 23-man squad named for Saturday’s clash in Adelaide, a few interesting selections were made.
Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche and Duane Vermeulen were all retained from the side that went down against the All Blacks at Ellis Park in their last fixture, despite struggling in that game, leading to them being subbed in the first half.
Elton Jantjies, who played a disastrous 40 minutes in the first Test against Wales, and Frans Steyn, who has yet to play this season, were then both brought onto the bench which led to two form players, Jasper Wiese and Willie le Roux, falling out of the match-day squad.
With Australia being an extremely unhappy hunting ground for the Boks over the last 30 years, it seems a strange place to be backing players short of form and game time, but Davids claimed it was all part of the plan and they believed this team could pull off a win.
“Winning will always be the priority for us and we have selected this team with that in mind. We believe that these selections can put us in a position to achieve that,” said Davids.
“We have had a lot of players that have delivered outstanding performances and some of them have been rewarded, but we also have an eye on the bigger picture and we are building towards that with the World Cup just over a year away.
“It’s important for us to look at different combinations and build depth through game time and game experience, so we are happy to see guys like Frans Steyn and Warrick (Gelant) back in the squad, getting an opportunity to play.”
World Cup preparation
Player welfare is also an important aspect of the Bok setup as they build towards next year’s showpiece event, and giving opportunities to fringe players and players with not enough international minutes under their belts is something that they have to try and get right with each team selection.
“We look at our selections in terms of combinations, performances and our own game plan, making tweaks here and there,” Davids said.
“We are just fortunate to have so many quality players in our squad which allows us to make changes for different games, and that we can get maximum rewards from them.
“It will always be a priority for us to ensure that we prepare to the best of our abilities and make sure that the players are at their best on game day.”