Moerat's chances of facing Wales skyrocket

rugby14 June 2024 05:30
By:Brenden Nel
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Salmaan Moerat @ Gallo images

DHL Stormers captain Salmaan Moerat’s chances of starting the test against Wales skyrocketed this week with news that injuries and cup action will keep at least three Springbok regulars out of action.

Moerat was one of only three locks chosen by Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus after a spate of injuries in the camp and looks almost certain to be alongside Eben Etzebeth in the starting lineup against Wales.

A good performance there and the Stormers captain may well force his way into the matchday 23 for the Ireland series, which is set to be a bit different to the mix-and-match 23 that will face Wales.

With injuries to Lood de Jager, Jean Kleyn and Jean-Luc du Preez confirmed by Erasmus on Thursday, ruling them out for both the Wales test and the first test against Ireland, there are only three fit locks in the squad at the moment, although that could change if certain results happen in the semifinals of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

Etzebeth and fellow regular Franco “Sous” Mostert are there, alongside Moerat and it is expected that Munster’s RG Snyman will join the squad as soon as his URC commitments are done. Other than that, Bulls lock Ruan Nortje has been part of the squad before and could make an appearance in the squad when the Bulls finish their URC campaign.

But other than that, there are few options left for Erasmus should an injury or two strike the squad ahead of the Ireland series. Pieter-Steph du Toit, who operates mainly at blindside flank these days, can also be used in an emergency at five lock.


Erasmus, when asked about the lock situation, admitted they were “a bit thin” in the position, but didn’t look too perturbed by the prospect. He did, however, talk up Moerat to the point where it would be a surprise if he didn’t start against Wales at Twickenham next weekend.

“We are a bit thin, but Salmaan has been pushing really hard. He is a guy who has been a captain at Junior Boks level and every time when it is his turn, he seems to have a bad injury. So he would have been a real contender going to the World Cup last year but then he got that injury. He is looking really good, a typical front lock and with him RG and Eben being solid front locks, and Sous can also call the lineouts,” Erasmus said.

“Definitely we will also be looking at one or two of the Bulls guys and see how it goes this weekend against Leinster, who form a big part of the Irish team. That might really sway us in that direction. Obviously, we have Pieter-Steph, who can easily slot in at five and call the lineouts.

“But I agree, I remember when it was Jean Kleyn, RG and Lood and just being in the huddle, it was much taller than it is currently, but yeah, we are looking at that.”

Injuries in the back three mean that the Boks could also see a debutant on the wing, with Erasmus being impressed with winger Edwill van der Merwe since he joined the squad.


With Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie both ruled out for the Wales test and the first game against Ireland, the options have been limited. That was further compounded by a knee injury “niggle” to Cheslin Kolbe, who Erasmus admitted was “touch and go” for the Ireland series.

Erasmus does have several options in the back three, but not with the same punching ability that the three injured wingers bring. Makazole Mapimpi is almost certain to start against Wales while the decision on the rest of the back trio will be taken after the Bulls game against Leinster.

If the Bulls do lose, it may be likely that Willie le Roux will join the squad and play against Wales. Otherwise, the decision will be between the two fullbacks in the squad - Aphelele Fassi and Quan Horn. Fassi has a slight advantage, having played in the Bok set-up before and in that likelihood, could get the nod, while the plan of attack will determine if Erasmus goes with more than one debutant at the back.

Fassi can also play wing for the side, as can Jesse Kriel, who has popped up on the wing in several tests over the past few years, so at least here Erasmus has options.

Asked what he expected from his new caps in the squad, Erasmus said it depended on the position.

“Everyone is different, a guy like Edwill, with the way he is training and the way he is putting up his hand - the moment he starts feeling comfortable in the environment and can be himself and do things that other players can’t do, within our system.

“It was like that with Cheslin, we pulled him in five days before an All Black test, cold and he just slotted in. These boys have a chance, they have been at alignment camps and now having a full camp week, and a test match week - it is all about how quickly they understand, how quickly things come naturally so that they don’t have to think too much.

“The reason why we picked them is because we see they have something about them that is different from the players we did not pick. That we want to see come through, while feeling settled and being themselves in the environment.”