Johannesburg – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus believes his side needs to handle all the emotion surrounding Saturday’s second Test in Bloemfontein in the same way they handled the first Test in Johannesburg if they are to clinch the series against England this weekend.
While last Saturday was significant because it was the first time a black Springbok captain had led the team onto the field, this week sees Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira reach his 100th Test cap, while captain Siya Kolisi also celebrates his birthday on Saturday.
On top of it all, it is June 16 – Youth day – which commemorates the Soweto uprising and president Cyril Ramaphosa will be in attendance at the game, according to SuperSport.com.
Erasmus said the players needed to focus on the job at hand, and not be distracted.
“I guess it is impossible for guys to keep the emotion away. It is what it is, it is a 100th game,” he said.
“I’m not sure if the birthday is such a big thing. It is the capability that if a guy can handle all that and still go out there and put the effort out there. That is the big trick, the big secret. If you can bottle all that and say my job is this, it’s my 100th Test match or my birthday or whatever.
“Like Siya did last week, it was a big occasion for him, but he was focused, he was tired that last 10 minutes but he was focused and did his job.
“We expect the same from Siya and the same from Beast as well. And all of us, we shouldn’t make a helluva hype so the focus goes away from the game. We will use it but I guess channel it in the right direction.”
Erasmus said the Boks were honoured the president was attending the game, but wanted to repay the positivity surrounding the fans with a good performance to say thank you to those who support the team.
“Look it is nice the support we are getting currently. It is an honour, first of all, and the only way we can repay the currently positivity around the team is by putting the effort out there that matches the match.
“It is all an honour but it means nothing if you just say it is an honour. You have to go out there and play as if you appreciate that.”
South Africa lead the three game series 1-0.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Warrick Gelant
15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Mike Brown, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Denny Solomona