Rival coach exposes brutal truth about Israel Folau scandal

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has admitted the Wallabies are much less of a threat without Israel Folau.

South Africa face the Wallabies at Ellis Park on Saturday, but won’t have to deal with the potent try-scoring freak that Folau is.

“They’ll be less of a threat aerially without him … that is one thing you worry about,” Erasmus said.

“I don’t know how influential he was as a leader but certainly I think we have a better chance in the aerial department.

“He is a great striker and finishes tries. He was the top-try scorer [in Super Rugby]. He is an influential player.

“There is no doubt they will miss Folau because he is a world-class player but they interchange positions no matter the number on their back.”

Israel Folau in action for the Wallabies in 2018, one of his last Tests.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Israel Folau in action for the Wallabies in 2018. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

South Africa will field a second-string team for their Rugby Championship opener against the Wallabies, but Erasmus says that shouldn't be seen as a sign of disrespect.

The Springboks named three debutants in their squad, including starting halfback Herschel Jantjies, to face the Wallabies at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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Only half a dozen of the line-up could be considered first-choice players, while a group of 15 have already departed for New Zealand to prepare for the Test against the world No.1 side in Wellington next weekend.

Erasmus says his selections were forced by the travel schedule.

"There's no disrespect to Australia at all," Erasmus said.

"If we didn't have the tough draw in terms of travelling with New Zealand and Australia we would have picked the best first choice team for this one and the next."

He also said it was also about giving match time to as many players as possible ahead of the World Cup starting in Japan in September.

Rassie Erasmus is happy not to have to worry about Israel Folau when South Africa face the Wallabies. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
Rassie Erasmus is happy not to have to worry about Israel Folau. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

New-look Springboks side

The coach said Australia's schedule - hosting bottom-ranked Argentina next round - meant they could take a different approach and felt they would see the Springboks match as "must-win" after losing nine Tests last year.

"Australia is in a different boat. I think if you take their last few matches, end of last year, they would like to pick up some momentum," Erasmus said.

"I guess they will see this as a big must-win for them and I guess that's why they've probably picked their first choice team."

Veteran lock Eben Etzebeth will cover for injured captain Siya Kolisi while blindside flanker Rynhardt Elstadt, who plays for Toulouse, will also make his debut.

Prop Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls) is also set to earn his debut off the bench, alongside 2007 World Cup winner Francois Steyn who is back in the squad for the first time in two years.

Jantjies will partner Elton Jantjies in a new-look halves combination with Erasmus eager to see what the 23-year-old Stormers rookie can deliver.

"Herschel has knocked down the door with the way he played in Super Rugby," the coach said.

"When he came up against some of the best players in Super Rugby, he stood his ground and was consistent on attack and defence."

Exciting Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant and Sharks wingers S'busiso Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi have been named specifically to counter Australia's preferred attacking style.

"Australia play a width game, a high-paced outflanking game," Erasmus said.

"They tend to try to go around you and we feel with those two and Warwick at the back, it's the best combination to try and contain them speed wise."

Springboks squad:

Warrick Gelant, S'busiso Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies, Francois Louw, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Rynhardt Elstadt, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth (c), Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira. Res: Schalk Brits, Lizo Gqoboka, Vincent Koch, Marvin Orie, Marcell Coetzee, Cobus Reinach, Francois Steyn, Dillyn Leyds.

wiith AAP