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Boks can be World Cup challengers in 2019 - Erasmus

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    03 Feb 2018     Getty Images

South Africa Rugby made the expected replacement of Allister Coetzee on Friday with the Springboks having slipped to sixth in the world rankings.

Even before that announcement Erasmus told South African media on Thursday that it was a priority to ensure the Springboks regained their status as a feared team.

"Our biggest asset is that we have a tremendous amount of players, and if we utilise those players well, then we can become one of the big powers in world rugby again," he said.

As director of rugby since returning from a coaching position with Munster, Erasmus has been at the forefront of planning for the 2018 season.

"There has already been a lot of planning going on through various levels of the game, and particularly with regards to the Springboks. We are ranked sixth in the world, so my immediate focus, and the big ticket, is to fix things as soon as possible," he said.

Work was well underway behind the scenes and there was collaboration with South Africa's Investec Super Rugby franchises and the Pro14 sides. That should have the Springboks ready to face England in June, he said.

"I think all of us want things to be in place as soon as possible, but I don't see it as a massive problem.

"I can take you back to 2012 when Heyneke [Meyer] was appointed, we did all the planning [behind the scenes], but a lot of the support staff were only confirmed shortly before the start of that first Test series, and we beat England in that series. It was the same with Allister two years ago, and we beat Ireland 2-1 [in 2016]," he said.

"So there has been planning going on behind the scenes and, of course, we want to get that clarity," he said.

On the matter of possibly utilising overseas-based players, Erasmus said South Africa Rugby couldn't afford to overlook some players if they could add real value to the Springboks.

"There are probably about 10 of them who can play for the Springboks," he said.

"I think sometimes we tend to make this big thing about losing players, but on the other hand, some people say we have too many professional players.

"I just think we have to make sure that the best talent here will play, but if there is a player outside of that with more than 30 caps, who is fit, still wants to play and is conditioned suitably with the timing of the seasons, then we will certainly consider those players within the parameters that have been set.

"I'm definitely not going to overlook those players. Common sense must prevail. We can't cut [off] our nose to spite our face," he said.