FORMER Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will be notable absentee when the province host a South Africa XV at a sold-out Páirc Uí Chaoimh tomorrow (Thursday) night.
He has forgone an opportunity for a reunion to concentrate on his country’s upcoming Test with France in Paris.
“The main priority is the Springboks,” explained South Africa A head coach Mzwandile Stick.
“Rassie felt that he needed to be in the Springbok camp with them in France to make sure we turn things around.
Two former Munster players, Thomas du Toit and Jason Jenkins, are included in the SA starting selection. Du Toit will captain the visitors. Also involved with the Springbok set-up is another former coach at Munster in Jaques Nienaber.
In their time, Munster have claimed some landmark wins over touring international sides, most notably against the All Blacks at Thomond Park in 1978 and the Maori All Blacks six years ago.
“We had to go deep into the history of these games,” acknowledged Stick. “If you look at the history, these games with the international sides, they give everything they’ve got.
“We’ve presented that history to the players to understand the challenge that lies ahead of them.”
Ahead of the tour, Nienaber commented: “Munster are a giant force in Ireland, and they will offer the SA Select XV exactly the type of test we need to build combinations and player depth as we prepare for the Rugby World Cup next year.
“We have been working with a large squad this year so that we can give an expanded group of players a chance to stake a claim for places in the Rugby World Cup and beyond, and by facing top opposition such as Munster. I have no doubt we will get some of the answers we need with the international extravaganza about a year away.
“We haven’t had a proper rugby tour with midweek games in several years, so we are very excited about this opportunity.