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There’s no ‘A’ and ‘B’ team in this Bok set-up, says Esterhuizen

'Everyone needs to be match fit and get some rugby under their belt ... so you have 33 players to choose from.'

Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen has reiterated that there is no Springbok ‘A’ and ‘B’ side ahead of their Rugby World Cup encounter against Tonga in Marseille on Sunday evening.

Talk of an ‘A’ and ‘B’ side surfaced at the start of this year’s Rugby Championship, where the Bok team that played the first game against Australia in Pretoria was dubbed the ‘B’ side while the group that played the second match against New Zealand in Auckland was called the ‘A’ team.


The Springboks‘ management rebuffed those suggestions, maintaining that they were spreading the workload and minutes around the players in the squad. Since then, and leading up to the World Cup, there’s been plenty of rotation in the Springboks’ setup.

Esterhuizen, whose performances in the build-up to the World Cup earned him a place in the 33-man squad and have brought about calls for him to start ahead of regular No 12 Damian de Allende, explained that the reason there’s no Boks ‘A’ or ‘B’ side is that they are both evenly matched in quality.

“I just play when I am selected; we spoke about it quite a few times. We don’t see it as two different teams, an A and B side. You can see there is a good mixture between players every single game,” said Esterhuizen when speaking to the media this week.

“It is about game-time and game management for every single player to be ready. If you haven’t been selected for four weeks and you need to all of a sudden play in a quarter-final, it’s probably not going to go well. Everyone needs to be match fit and get some rugby under their belt … so you have 33 players to choose from,” he said.

‘Physical side’

The man known as ‘The Agent of Chaos’ will resume his midfield partnership with Canan Moodie when the Boks take on Tonga at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday. The duo has played twice together and are yet to lose a match.

The Springboks need a bonus point win in their last pool stage match to solidify their credentials for a spot in the knockout stage.

Looking forward to the game, Esterhuizen is expecting a physical challenge from the Pacific Island side as they have a couple of big men in their ranks.

“For me, it is just like every other game. Every game I play the same, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing against. We are up against a physical side this weekend. They’ve got some tough players in the backline and forwards … they’ve got a massive pack.

“We aim to win the physicality battle like every other weekend. This weekend it’s going to be just a little bit harder. You are going to run into a few big boys, but that is the challenge,” Esterhuizen said.