Neal Hatley – ‘Brits selection clever move by Erasmus’

Date published: June 13 2018

England forwards coach Neal Hatley believes it was a ‘clever move’ on Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’ part to draft veteran Schalk Brits in to his squad for the remainder of the three-match series.

37-year-old Brits, who has become a cult figure at Premiership champions Saracens, was called up by Erasmus on Monday.

And Hatley believes it is a very shrewd move by Erasmus as Brits brings an intimate knowledge of the English players and a touch of class.

“It is a clever move and Rassie is very similar to Eddie (England coach Eddie Jones) in that vein,” Hatley told Sky Sports.

“He (Brits) knows a lot of the players who play for us from the league, so has intimate knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. It is a good move. It makes sense to bring him in even though he has been a few weeks retired.

“He has great feet, is a great runner, has excellent ball skills. It is a good move, If you know Schalk you will know it is a good move and you will be pleased for him.”

Meanwhile, Hatley, who played his schoolboy rugby in the Eastern Cape and later played for the Natal U20s, took the time to hail the achievements of Springbok prop Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, who will be running out for his 100th appearance in the green and gold on Saturday.

“Beast is phenomenal and has made a massive contribution to both the Sharks and the Springboks since arriving from Zimbabwe,” he said.

“He plays in a very attritional position so his survival and number of caps is testimony to how good he is. Playing 100 games is a special reason to celebrate but hopefully we won’t allow him too much of a celebration on Saturday.”

Hatley expected a much-improved Bok outfit at Ellis Park on Saturday, although he also said England would be better, after a week longer in training together.

“We fully expect South Africa to be a much better team this week as they have had an extra week together,” he added.

“We will be better too though. We’ve had a good training week, we’ve established where we went wrong last week, and we are working hard on putting right what we got wrong in Johannesburg.

“We scored close to 40 points and were obviously good on attack in Johannesburg so we need to work on the other areas.”