Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has explained his decision-making process at hooker for the upcoming year-end tour in Europe.
Erasmus coped criticism in several quarters when he excluded Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe from his 36-man squad named last Saturday.
The Bok mentor told Netwerk24 that Van der Merwe was not always the first-choice hooker at the Sharks, as Chiliboy Ralepelle often wore the No 2 jersey and also captained the team.
“They rotated at the Sharks and Akker was not always first choice,” Erasmus said.
Erasmus opted for Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi and Schalk Brits as his three hookers in the squad.
Van der Merwe was in scintillating form for the Sharks in their Currie Cup final win over Western Province at the weekend.
But Erasmus added: “I also think we must not put too much opinion on the basis of one Currie Cup game. Akker is promising and he has been part of our squad this year, but I chose Schalk for a specific reason.
“There are young props in the squad that need leadership and Malcolm and Bongi are not older or experienced hookers. You need that experience and I also think Schalk is the right choice for a tour in Europe. It does not mean that Akker or any other hookers won’t get a chance of going to the World Cup.”
Springbok squad for the 2018 tour (in order of name, surname, position, province, Test caps, Test points):
Schalk Brits (Hooker, Unattached, 11, 5 - 1t)
Lood de Jager (Lock, Blue Bulls, 36, 20 - 4t)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Loose forward / Lock, Western Province, 42, 20 - 4t)
Thomas du Toit (Prop, Sharks, 5, 0)
Eben Etzebeth (Lock, Western Province, 73, 15 - 3t)
Steven Kitshoff (Prop, Western Province, 33, 5 - 1t)
Vincent Koch (Prop, Saracens, England, 10, 0)
Siya Kolisi (captain – Loose forward, Western Province, 37, 25 - 5t)
Francois Louw (Loose forward, Bath, England, 62, 45, - 9t)
Wilco Louw (Prop, Western Province, 11, 0)
Frans Malherbe (Prop, Western Province, 25, 0)
Malcolm Marx (Hooker, Golden Lions, 20, 20 - 4t)
Bongi Mbonambi (Hooker, Western Province, 22, 10 - 2t)
Franco Mostert (Lock, Golden Lions, 26, 5 - 1t)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Loose forward, Western Province, 6, 0)
Trevor Nyakane (Prop, Blue Bulls, 37, 5 - 1t)
JD Schickerling (Lock, Western Province, uncapped)
RG Snyman (Lock, Honda Heat, Japan, 8, 0)
Duane Vermeulen (Loose forward, Kubota Spears, Japan, 42, 15 - 3t)
Warren Whiteley (Loose forward, Golden Lions, 21, 15 - 3t)
BacksGio Aplon (Wing / Fullback, Toyota Verblitz, Japan, 17, 25 - 5t)
Damian de Allende (Centre, Western Province, 33, 20 - 4t)
Aphiwe Dyantyi (Wing, Golden Lions, 9, 30 - 6t)
André Esterhuizen (Centre, Munakata Sanix Blues, Japan, 5, 0)
Elton Jantjies (Flyhalf, Golden Lions, 29, 223 - 2t, 42c, 43p)
Cheslin Kolbe (Wing / Fullback, Toulouse, France, 4, 10 - 2t)
Jesse Kriel (Centre, Blue Bulls, 36, 50 - 10t)
Wille le Roux (Fullback, Wasps, England, 50, 60 – 12t)
Ruhan Nel (Centre, Western province, upcapped)
Sbu Nkosi (Wing, Sharks, 3, 10 - 2t)
Embrose Papier (Scrumhalf, Blue Bulls, 4, 0)
Sergeal Petersen (Wing, Western Province, uncapped)
Handré Pollard (Flyhalf, Blue Bulls, 35, 293 - 3t, 55c, 53p, 3d)
Louis Schreuder (Scrumhalf, Sharks, 1, 0)
Ivan van Zyl (Scrumhalf, Blue Bulls, 3, 0)
Damian Willemse (Flyhalf / Fullback, Western Province, 3, 0)