Physical Rynhardt Elstadt wants to make the most of Springboks selection
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CAPE TOWN - Springbok forward Rynhardt Elstadt says the fact that some of the players in the group have played rugby in Europe will be a big advantage for the hosts during the Test Series against the British & Irish Lions.
The Springboks will take on Warren Gatland’s team in the first of the three Cape Town Tests on Saturday (kick-off 6pm).
Elstadt has been with Toulouse since 2017, while the likes of Damian de Allende (Munster), Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), Eben Etzebeth (Toulon), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks) and Handre Pollard (Montpellier) are also on the books of European clubs.
And it’s a factor that has certainly been beneficial to the Boks during their disrupted preparation for the Series, Elstadt said.
“I think my experience in Europe makes a big difference. We have a bit of insight into what we could expect. Even with the match we (South Africa ‘A’) played last Wednesday, we could see the European style coming through, and I think we managed to work around a few things that we weren’t going to expect from them (had it not been for that experience).”
The 31-year-old also chatted about the role of the bench – an area that is different to what we’ve become used to from the Boks.
For the opening Test, the Bok coaching staff went with a five-three split as opposed to the six-two trend that proved so successful during the World Cup.
Head coach Jacques Nienaber went on to explain the decision, saying that they don't want to put too much pressure on their backs, particularly Handre Pollard and Makazoe Mapimpi, who were both in isolation in Johannesburg, missing out on valuable team training.
But, regardless of the forward-to-back ratio, the replacements still have a big role to play, said Elstadt, who will feature off the bench and provide loose forward and second-row cover this weekend.
“Coming from the bench, we play quite an important role,” Elstadt said. “It’s been expected from day one to fulfil whatever opportunity I get to fulfil.”
“I think I’ve got the most workload of everyone out there (during training), because I need to know some of the lock stuff too and I need to know the loose forwards’ roles as well. But, we do kind of combine it, working together, so each one of the boys knows the other’s role.
“So, that makes it a little bit easier, but being a forward coming off the bench, you put in a lot more work than the guys starting.
“Every player that played in the warm-up matches really stuck up their hand and gave their everything. I was just really surprised that I was named in the side. It’s an honour for me and I hope I can live up to the standard.”