Rassie Erasmus is a Test level coach with a difference. Some rivals zealously guard against revealing their hand and if they had a choice would prefer to keep the identity of their XV secret until a few hours before a match if they were allowed.
The South African boss is different, however. While Rugby World Cup regulations permitted him to keep his team announcement under wraps until Friday ahead of Sunday’s quarter-final in Tokyo with host nation Japan, Erasmus had no hesitation in bringing forward his team announcement by a day.
“We announced the team three days before because we have done the work now,” he explained. “We actually announced the team internally already on Sunday night. We don’t feel there is anything to hide from the opposition.
“We feel the quicker we announce the team, the quicker the players can settle. The guys who are not in the team can accept that, and also the guys who are in the team can accept the responsibility of preparing well for the match.
“We don’t care really if the opposition know our team. They still have to make plans and play against us on Sunday. The biggest benefit for us is that we train three days in a row and we feel now we have three days’ rest before the Test match.
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“We don’t have to have another press conference on a day off when the guys can have another day of recovery. If they [Japan] are going to change their team because of the way we picked our team, then I think there are some problems in their team selection policy.”
After making 13 changes from South Africa’s previous game against Canada, reverting to same starting XV and replacements that secured victory over Italy in their third match at the finals, Erasmus believes his Springboks are primed to deliver and move forward to a semi-final against either Wales or France.
“If you talk about Japan, they fully believe they can beat us. If you must ask their coach Jamie (Joseph) if they can beat us, he will say deep down in his heart, yes, they are the favourites.
“If I’m honest with you, yes, I think we are the favourites. I’m not one of those coaches who sit here and say to you ‘We are not really sure’, because we prepare to win.
“That doesn’t make it any easier to win, but we analyse and prepare to be as ready as we can. I’m 100 per cent sure Jamie does the same, and his team feel deep down inside – although some people say they can just go out and enjoy it – they will really feel they can beat us.”
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