Erasmus Adds Experience to South Africa Backline in Paris: Le Roux and De Klerk

PARIS – South Africa’s rugby coach Rassie Erasmus has added experience in key kicking positions in his backline for the test against France in Paris on Saturday, with the inclusion of England-based duo Willie le Roux and Faf de Klerk.

Australia’s Reece Hodge challenges Willie le Roux. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The pair missed last weekend’s 12-11 loss to England at Twickenham as the fixture fell outside the international window, but have been drafted into the side along with lock Franco Mostert, who replaces the injured Eben Etzebeth.

Le Roux and De Klerk, who have 70 caps between them, replace Damian Willemse and Ivan van Zyl, who drop out of the match-day 23.

“It’s good to have the experienced players back in the starting team for France,” Erasmus said in a media release from South Africa Rugby on Thursday.

“I thought Damian and Ivan did very well last week against England but you need as much experience as possible playing away from home. We are building squad depth for the Rugby World Cup and they will be back in the mix as the tour progresses.”

Erasmus added that Etzebeth was not rushed back into service after his ankle injury against England with the final two tests on tour against Scotland and Wales in mind.

“We believe it would be better not to rush Eben back as we still have two tests left on the tour after the match against France,” he said.

“Franco has started in eight of our 11 tests this year and he starts with Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is obviously also a good option to move to loose forward later in the match.”

The Boks have won their last six tests against the French, including their previous two meetings in Paris, the last of which was a narrow 18-17 success in 2017.

They have had an inconsistent year, though, winning five of their 11 tests, include an away victory over New Zealand in the Rugby Championship.

The match in the French capital kicks off at 22h05 (SA time).

Springboks Team:

15-Willie le Roux, 14-Sbu Nkosi, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Warren Whiteley, 7-Duane Vermeulen, 6-Siya Kolisi (captain), 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Malcolm Marx, 1-Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Thomas du Toit, 18-Vincent Koch, 19-RG Snyman, 20-Francois Louw, 21-Embrose Papier, 22-Elton Jantjies, 23-Cheslin Kolbe.

(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)