Kolbe is one Springbok star shining abroad. Billy Stickland/INPHO
dogs of war

Erasmus: 'Our big dogs are playing consistently. And they are in top form'

The Springboks are also still hopeful of getting fans into games for the Test series.

RASSIE ERASMUS HAS tipped his ‘old dogs’ to tame the British and Irish Lions when the two teams collide in South Africa this summer.

Despite being idle since the World Cup final, a result of South Africa’s decision to withdraw from last year’s Rugby Championship, and despite the absence of fans from their stadiums, Erasmus is not concerned ahead of the three-test series.

Instead he pointed to the presence of so many of his players abroad, including Leicester’s Jasper Wiese, Sale’s duo Lood de Jager and Faf de Klerk, Toulouse winger, Cheslin Kolbe and of course, Munster’s centre, Damian de Allende – each of whom have profited from competitive action.

“The advantage we have, for the first time probably, as a result of our currency being weak, is our players playing all over the world,” Erasmus said at a press conference yesterday.

“We are lucky there are a lot of guys playing at Sale in the Premiership, we are lucky there are a lot of guys playing in Japan in the Top League, a lot of our guys were involved in the Top 14, Damian is doing really well at Munster in the Pro14.

“Still, how we are going to be after so long without a game is a valid question as we haven’t had the advantage of playing in the Six Nations to see our players in those top-class competitions.

“But 30 of the 33-man squad that won the World Cup are available and are familiar with each other. Our big dogs who were mostly involved in the World Cup are playing consistently all over the world, many against Lions [players].And they are in top form.

“The Lions have to put four countries together who have different game plans, styles, cultures and mindsets, whereas we have one. We see it as even par with them.”

Erasmus also revealed that the South African union are still trying to persuade their national government to allow some fans attend the Test games.

“We have never gone with a gun against the head,” said Erasmus. “We have been saying we’ll definitely do what you guys say and hopefully good behaviour will be rewarded. We still have hope and we’re still asking but it is a long shot.

“There is a third wave in certain parts of our country. I think we had 2,500 infected yesterday. According to what I understand, they don’t think it will last as long and they think we are prepared enough to handle it better than our second wave. At one stage, we were facing it being cancelled and not having it for the next 12 years. We were prepared to play in the UK, in Dubai, we were prepared to play with or without crowds, just because there are guys on our side who will never have the opportunity again.”

The Springboks will name a 45-man squad next Saturday.

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