Rugby Championship

Boks to go full tilt as Lions join fray

Malcolm Marx (Getty)
Malcolm Marx (Getty)

Cape Town -  Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will have all 35 of his Rugby Championship squad together when the Lions join the fray in Stellenbosch on Wednesday. 

Warren Whiteley, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Franco Mostert, Malcolm Marx, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Cyle Brink, Marvin Orie and Lionel Mapoe were all involved in this past Saturday's 37-18 loss to the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final in Christchurch. 

There is not time to rest, though, and a number of those players will be big players in the Bok Rugby Championship push. 

Marx and Dyantyi, in particular, are crucial players for Erasmus. 

The Stellenbosch camp started over three weeks ago with just seven Stormers in attendance after Robbie Fleck's charges failed to make the Super Rugby playoffs. 

The Bulls joined a little later, while the Sharks players were still on Super Rugby duty with a quarter-final trip to Christchurch to prepare for. 

But, once the Sharks were dumped out of the competition, their Boks joined up with the rest of the squad in Stellenbosch. 

It was important, Erasmus emphasised, to keep the conditioning levels up during the Super Rugby playoffs. 

The squad has been growing gradually ever since, but by the end of Wednesday all 35 players are expected to be going at it. 

"They've been coming in bits and pieces," Erasmus explained in Stellenbosch earlier in the week.

"We used some Sevens guys to train against.

"In the beginning it was just conditioning to make sure that the guys don't all go hunting, fishing and on holiday only to come back and have to play against teams who have been playing through quarter-finals and semi-finals of Super Rugby.

"It sometimes happened in the past when a team falls out they get two weeks off and then go into the Rugby Championship. You can probably say they need a rest, but on the other hand the Crusaders didn't get a rest right until the final.

"We try to keep them conditioned and some of them are in better condition than they were."

Now that he has a full squad to work with, Erasmus will shift the focus from conditioning to more game-specific training.

"As we build it up and get more numbers, we start to do more tactical stuff on how we want to try and play in the Rugby Championship," he said.

"With the Lions coming in on Wednesday, we'll go full on into our actual plan."

The Boks open their campaign against Argentina in Durban next Saturday. 

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