EXCLUSIVE - Former Springbok on why England will win first ever series on South African soil
England are coming off three successive Six Nations defeats but Schalk Brits makes Eddie Jones’s men favourite to win next month’s test series in South Africa and is backing recalls for Wasps Willie le Roux and Sale’s Faf de Klerk to bolster the Springboks cause.
RugbyPass understands Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus is planning to fly Bismarck du Plessis home for the England series to cover for the loss of the Lions hooker Malcolm Marx who has a serious hamstring injury. The plan is to recall du Plessis once the hooker’s commitments to Montpellier are completed as they are in the Top14 play-offs. It means du Plessis cannot be considered for the Springboks test with Wales in Washington on June 2.
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While other members of the Springboks squad will have to deal with the jet lag problems created by the one-off test in America, du Plessis will be able to fly directly to South Africa from France for the series which starts in Johannesburg on June 9 followed by Bloemfontein (June 16) and Cape Town (June 23).
The knee injury suffered by Racing 92 outside half Pat Lambie in yesterday’s European Champions Cup final defeat by Leinster, rules him out of the England series making the return of le Roux and de Klerk even more timely as they are not only in great form but have crucial up-to-date experience of the England players who will be attempting to win a first ever series in South Africa.
For Brits, who is preparing to face le Roux in Saracens home Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final at Allianz Park on Saturday, the return of the Wasps fullback and de Klerk, the Sale Sharks scrumhalf, can only enhance the Springboks’ chances.
Brits, in his final season as a professional player, said: “Willie has been voted the Wasps supporters player of the season and Faf has got the same award at Sale. I have played with and against Willie and he creates space for others or makes something happen himself. From a full back perspective, we have been struggling in South Africa and he would bring a different dimension to the Bok side. During the World Cup in 2015 we were quite structured in the way we wanted to play and that inhibited some of his capabilities.
“If you watch what Willie has been doing at Wasps this season then it is pretty phenomenal with 21 try assists. That stat alone show you what he brings to the team as well as being such a solid player and offers a kicking option. Willie would be an asset to any team.
“Faf instils passion into the game and it’s not like people are queuing up for the No.9 role with the Boks and it is up for grabs. It really comes down to what pattern Rassie wants to play and getting the right players to put that into operation. If he wants to bring in pace then pick Faf or bring him off the bench and let him do his magic.
“Faf has been playing outstanding rugby for Sale and his option taking has been really good and he has been a little pocket rocket. If I was his size I would be getting out of the way of the big hits but he puts himself right in the middle of things.”
For Erasmus and whoever he chooses to take on England, the challenge will be significant and despite Jones being robbed by injury of key players including captain Dylan Hartley(Northampton) and the Bath pair of Antony Watson and Jonathan Joseph, Brits expects a difficult series for the Boks. He added: “England didn’t have a great Six Nations but they definitely go to South Africa as favourites because they have a squad that has been together for a long time. Rassie is striving, in a very short time, to get structures in place and losing guys like Jan Serfontein is a real blow.”
With Marx out with his hamstring injury, is Brits putting his own hand up for a test recall given his form for Saracens? “Of course, yes! I would love to finish my career playing for the Springboks and please give Rassie a call and tell him I am available!”
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