Springbok Vincent Koch

Springbok Vincent Koch celebrates. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Rassie reveals why Springbok star asked not to start

Rassie Erasmus has provided further insight into the Springboks’ team culture after revealing a compelling selection decision.

Springbok Vincent Koch

Springbok Vincent Koch celebrates. Photo: SA Rugby website.

On Tuesday it was confirmed that Rugby World Cup-winning prop Vincent Koch will earn his 50th Test cap on Saturday when the Springboks take on Wales at Twickenham.

Koch has predominantly served as a key member of the Springboks’ ‘bomb squad’, but for this milestone match, he will wear the No 3 jersey.

Interestingly, Erasmus has revealed that Frans Malherbe was initially selected in the run-on XV, but he made the request for Koch to rather start on this occasion.

“We announced the team with Frans at tighthead,” Erasmus said. “Five minutes later one of the players came to me and said it was Vincent’s 50th game.

“When Franna heard that, he said: ‘No ways’. A guy that works so hard and got so few chances to start and it is in your hands, the two players are so similar.

“He also plays with guys that he knows. He and Malcolm [Marx] normally go on together. So it is now a combination, but it wouldn’t have been a combination if it wasn’t for his 50th.

“That is how much it means to the players. We don’t want a player to come off the bench when it is his 50th game. Especially when there is very little to choose between him and Frans.

“It’s funny,” Erasmus added. “We’ve made a mistake twice before. We picked Lood de Jager and someone whispered in my ear the Thursday before the game it was Franco Mostert’s 50th game.

“It was so nice. I thought, ‘My goodness, he is going to play off the bench’. I went to Lood and said: ‘I made a mistake, I think Franco should start, it’s his 50th game’. Lood said he didn’t mind.

“However, I thought I’d let Lood start anyway. When we got to the huddle, Lood said he wanted to say something. He told the players it was Franco’s 50th game and he wanted Franco to start and he will play off the bench. So Lood just announced it.”

Meanwhile, Erasmus said he was delighted to see Koch earn his 50th Test cap and lauded the player for being a stalwart for the Springboks.

“It’s a special achievement to play 50 Tests,” said Erasmus. “It requires one to play well consistently and to continue to deliver, and Vincent has certainly done that for us over the years. He’s a hard worker, and he’s had a great season for the Sharks, so we all share in the excitement for him ahead of this big occasion.

“Being such a good team man, I’m sure this will motivate the team even more to start the season on a high note, which will be vital to build momentum before the Incoming Series kicks off against Ireland in July.”

Springbok v Wales teams

South Africa

15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (captain), 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 23 Damian de Allende


15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Mason Grady, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 James Botham, 6 Taine Plumtree, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Dewi Lake (captain), 1 Gareth Thomas

Substitutes: 16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Keiron Keiron Assiratti, 19 James Ratti, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Eddie James, 23 Jacob Beetham