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By Adam Ellis
Ahead of naming his South Africa squad to face Wales and England in the June Tests this coming Saturday, Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus has hinted there will be a ‘few surprises’ in store.
Running the rule over South African rugby as both head coach and director of rugby, Erasmus has relaxed the selection rules limiting him from picking overseas players to widen the range of players available.
Speaking to SuperSport, the former Munster director of rugby said: “We’ll be training together as a group on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. And then on Thursday and Friday 26 guys will go to America, with a few guys staying behind to prepare for England. The squad will consist of about 40 players and after the first week it will be reduced to about 30.
“I think there will be a few surprises but I’m really going to try for a balance. I’m not going to pick conservatively.
“I’m really excited, there will be a few guys getting their first caps. There are young guys who deserve a chance. Of course, there will be a few older guys who have experience, but the young guys will also get exposure.”
The Boks fly to the US for a match against Wales on June 2 in Washington, though the fixture has been fraught with financial uncertainty, before hosting England in a three-Test series in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town.
Responding to his counterpart Eddie Jones’ squad selection, Erasmus said England’s ‘strongest team’ had been picked for the tour.
“If you look at his team, he’s picked his best available team. There are one or two guys who are injured and the odd one or two that he’s rested, but I think it’s his best team. I think it will be a tough Test series,” Erasmus commented.
“But I think it’s better for us. If they sent a weakened team then it would be a lose-lose scenario. If you beat them then everyone says you beat their B team, so I’m happy they are bringing their strongest team.”
Sale Sharks scrum-half Faf de Klerk, Saracens tighthead Vincent Koch and Wasps full-back Willie le Roux are almost certain to earn recalls given their strong form in the Aviva Premiership, as incumbents Ross Cronje continues his recovery from a rib injury and there are concerns over Warrick Gelant’s recent performances.
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