Wikus van Heerden says the Bok second-stringers will be up to the challenge in France.
The B-team beat Samoa at the start of the season and held their own against the Wallabies and All Blacks in the latter stages of the Tri-Nations. However, they were awful against Connacht last month, in a match that formed part of the Boks’ final World Cup preparations.
Jake White has indicated that he will play his first-choice XV against Samoa and England at the World Cup, before unleashing the second-stringers on Tonga and the USA. Van Heerden knows how important it is to maintain the momentum going into the quarter-finals.
â€œWe donâ€™t really see ourselves as second-stringers,” Van Heerden told keo.co.za. “We are part of the Bok squad and we have been chosen to do the job. All the preparation has been done and everybody is well aware of the roles they have to play at the World Cup.”
While the Bok second-stringers were poor against Connacht, Van Heerden believes the experience the players gained could prove vital at the World Cup.
â€œIt was a great opportunity to give the guys valuable game time in the build up to the World Cup. It also helped to get some of the new guys into the team system while also giving the coaches a view of the depth within the squad.”
Van Heerden dismissed concerns over recent Bok performances without some of the more established players and emphasised the importance of the squad system.
â€œI think that it was a case of the new combinations not being settled. There arenâ€™t any real concerns about the players and their contributions.
â€œThe reality is that you need all the guys in the squad to have experience of playing at this level especially going into a World Cup. You donâ€™t want a situation where the first choice player gets injured and then the next guy canâ€™t make the step up.â€
By Ebrahim Moerat