Erasmus backs SA teams to come right

Date published: September 12 2017

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus believes the two new South African teams in the PRO14 must be given more time to acclimatise.

The Cheetahs, beaten 42-19 by Ulster and 51-18 by Munster, and the Southern Kings, who lost 57-10 in Llanelli and 32-10 in Galway, have suffered humiliating starts to life in the Northern Hemisphere.

It was initially thought that two sides with Super Rugby experience and from a rugby-mad nation such as South Africa would increase the competitiveness of the tournament, but people have begun to wonder whether that is really the case.

However, 44-year-old Erasmus, who will return to South Africa in mid-season to become the national director of rugby, is adamant the Cheetahs and Kings will benefit the competition in the long run and asked for a bit of patience.  

“The Kings, they have got an awesome really good coach Deon Davids, and also good assistant coaches. They were on the back foot just purely because the decision was made so late for their inclusion. They’ve lost a lot of their players. He is a guy that can build a squad really quickly. They might take a bit of time for them to settle in," he told the42.

“It will be tough going to Port Elizabeth for teams but their squad is a bit thin in year one. Their squad there has only four or five guys from Superb Rugby. There will be lots of talent but getting them all to channel in the beliefs from other clubs and so on will take a little bit of time."

He expected the Cheetahs to make a more immediate impact as they have most of their Super Rugby squad.

“The Cheetahs are also Currie Cup champs last year. The Cheetahs only have their three Springbok players out at the moment. People say they are managing two competitions, that is not really true. They focus solely on the PRO14 with their strongest team. The other players that are left in the province do play Currie Cup," he said.

“With teams going over to Bloemfontein I have got no doubt they are going to become really, really good and this year already. Teams will see them getting tougher. I don’t fear that, I just see positives. The Kings might take a little bit longer.

“Definitely no need for panic. When six weeks are gone people can make a fair call on that and see, are they really competitive this year or not.”