For most of the Springboks players who will be in action against Wales in the once-off international at the RFK Stadium in Washington DC on Saturday night‚ there is a lot more than victory to play for.
Coach Rassie Erasmus has about six to seven spots available for the incoming series against England starting on Saturday next at Ellis Park and it is up to individual players to play themselves into the reckoning.
Erasmus revealed this when he named an inexperienced Springboks squad‚ to be captained by Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ with seven uncapped players in the starting line-up and a further six without any international experience on the bench.
“Without a doubt‚ there are players who are going to Washington who will be available for the series against England‚” he said.
“We have between seven to ten players who are travelling to the US and they will be considered for the series against England‚” he said.
Travis Ismaiel‚ Makazole Mapimpi‚ Andre Esterhuizen‚ Ivan van Zyl‚ Kwagga Smith‚ Jason Jenkins and Ox Nche will make their debuts while Akker van der Merwe‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Marvin Orie‚ Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ Embrose Papier and Robert du Preez are on the bench.
With a team bereft of experience‚ Erasmus is going to rely on the likes of captain Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Oupa Mohoje‚ Steven Kitshoff and Chiliboy Ralepelle who have been around the senior national for a while.
“These are the best players that we have available at the moment and we are splitting our resources in terms of strength to try and win both the matches against Wales and England‚” said Erasmus‚ adding that he has confidence in the players he has selected to the trip.
Du Toit said the responsibility of captaining the senior national side has overwhelmed him.
“My main aim was just to become a Springbok and other things that come with it will be a bonus‚” he said.
“It is difficult to explain how I feel and maybe it will sink in after the match.
“I am someone who leads by example.
“I am never late for meetings and I am professional.
“My strengths will be to try and lead by example because this is going to be massive Test match.”
Most of the experienced players like captain Siya Kolisi‚ Duane Vermeulen‚ Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis have remained behind in South Africa to continue preparations for the first match against England.
Liam Del Carme- TimesLIVE