Rassie Erasmus hinted that the Springboks could pull a surprise on Ireland after it was confirmed that Eben Etzebeth is fit for Saturday’s crucial World Cup clash.
The Springboks on Monday confirmed that Etzebeth was back in full training, after he was placed in doubt for the match due to a shoulder injury which kept him out of the big win over Romania.
“We said initially that Eben would be out for seven to 10 days, and he’s recovered well and is reacting well to training, so he’ll be up for selection,” said assistant coach Deon Davids.
Etzebeth’s return means that the Boks have a full contingent of five locks available for Saturday’s decisive pool clash in Paris, adding credence to the theory that they could field a seven-one split between forwards and backs.
“I don’t think we can go with an 8-0 split, but a seven-one split is definitely an option,” said Erasmus.
“A lot of teams are doing innovative things and sometimes they are doing things that was done many years ago, and people think it’s innovative.”
The Boks used the tactic to great effect in the final warm-up match against the All Blacks, after Kwagga Smith replaced fullback Willie le Roux on the bench.
Meanwhile, Handre Pollard reported for duty as the Springboks set up camp in Paris on Monday ahead of the decisive Pool B encounter with Ireland at the Stade de France.
The 2019 World Cup’s top-scorer only recently made his return from a calf injury in a Premiership Cup match for Leicester Tigers.
While there has been speculation that the Boks could jet Pollard straight into the starting lineup against the Irish, Erasmus made it clear that he would have to get back up to speed with the team’s training sessions before he is selected to play.
“Handre has joined us, but he won’t come in (the selection mix) immediately unless we have injuries,” said Erasmus.
“He only returned to playing last Friday, and we must first get him up to speed with the training sessions and then we’ll get him back in the mix.”
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