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Rassie Erasmus to test homegrown talent with England match falling outside international window

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus has said his plans for the autumn opener against England gives him a chance to assess the talent among home provinces.

South Africans playing their club rugby in England and France are unavailable for the Test at Twickenham due to the fixture falling outside of the international window. This means the likes of Willie le Roux, in-form Cheslin Kolbe and Faf de Klerk will be unavailable for selection.

And Erasmus admitted he envisaged scrum-half being a problematic area without the services of Sale Sharks back de Klerk.

Ivan van Zyl, Louis Schreuder and Embrose Papier hold only eight caps between them, while England can select from the experienced duo of Ben Youngs, Danny Care and Richard Wigglesworth.

“It’s just one of those cycles that we’re going through where we don’t have a lot of experienced 9s,” Erasmus said.

“In June we played England with an outside centre and two wingers with no caps. We are a bit thin going through a period of not having a lot of experienced scrum-halves. But Ivan and Embrose have been in the system since the beginning of the season, so it’s not a matter of them having to learn everything from scratch.”

Experience is something Erasmus knows can prove the difference at the home of English rugby, with 82,000 spectators set to be in attendance.

“Playing against England, under pressure in a full stadium, will be a new experience for some of the players and it will provide me with some good answers,” the former Blue Bulls coach told Sport 24.

“The English are good and physical, they are strong in the mauls and set phases, as well as on defence. They can vary their game and that’s the biggest lesson we learnt from our defeat in Cape Town in June.

“All the players that play in the English Premiership are not available, because the Test is outside the international window. The Japanese players can play, but the French players aren’t available as well.

“When we agreed to this Test match, we knew we were going to be without certain players. But there are some positive spinoffs – not just financially – like getting another Test before the World Cup. With guys like Faf and Willie not available, it does put pressure on us in terms of results.”

World Rugby rules state clubs do not have to release players outside of the three designated windows for international matches.

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