Lions and SA U19 coach Eugene Eloff has warned against pushing the new Springboks too far too fast.
Four new caps were included in Jake White’s squad yesterday, but Eloff was referring in particular to the three recent Baby Boks – Pierre Spies, Chiliboy Ralepelle and JP Pietersen. Akona Ndungane, the other new cap, has a few years of senior rugby under his belt and should cope alright.
“I think it is very exciting times for those three guys,” Eloff told keo.co.za, “but they need to be managed properly as I believe they are three big stars for the future.”
Often in times of crisis a coach will look to youth to revitalise his flagging fortunes. White currently finds himself in a situation that requires just that and may end up making a panic call instead of his usual calculated decisions.
“It is good they have been brought into the squad so they can learn from the experience of being around the older guys. Obviously all three performed well in the Super 14 and were in great form for the U21′s, but they must not be used to plug a gap.”
Eloff said he would also have chosen them at this stage, but hoped White would ease them into the Test arena slowly. The baptism of fire for a new Test player is especially hot in Australasia. With three matches and having to cross the Tasman twice, this year’s tour is tougher than any before it.
“I don’t think they are ready just yet, but it won’t be long before they can contribute,” added Eloff.
The Boks play the Wallabies in Brisbane on July 15, before travelling to Wellington in New Zealand to play the All Blacks the following weekend. They then have a two week break, but must return to Sydney for the second match against Australia on August 5.
By Andrew Hollely