Rynhardt Elstadt has been brought back to South Africa for his particular abilities and will not be limited by the number behind him, writes JON CARDINELLI to Johannesburg.
"There is something about this type. It could be the next Bakkies Botha."
It's been almost a decade since Rassie Erasmus delivered these words. At that time, Erasmus was training the Stormers. He spoke of a player called Rynhardt Elstadt, a physical copy that alternated between the flank of the lock and the blind flank.
Elstadt was at the center of all field fights. The tag of executor was consistent, although the back number was not.
And yet, the name of Elstadt did not seem to arrive at the conversation for the national team. At least not until Erasmus – the first Mentor of Elstadt als Stormers – took charge of the Boks.
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Elstadt has taken his game to the next level since he changed the Stormers to Toulouse. He played an important role in the season of the French club and was one of the highlights of the recent Top 14 final.
He is now on the verge of a first Bok boss and possibly a place in the World Cup team.
To be clear, Elstadt is not the same player who last appeared to the Stormers in 2017. He fought hard to go into the unthinkable environment of French rugby, where executives are a cent of a dozen and returns to South Africa as a player who challenges categorization.
"Rugby in the northern hemisphere is very different," Elstadt said when he addressed the media in Johannesburg. "It forced me to evolve and I hope that everything I have learned could have happened to the players of the staff of Bok".
"I was difficult to adjust when I got there. Learning the language was difficult. However, I discovered that after understanding the language, some doors were opened for me. & # 39;
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Erasmus had carefully followed Elstadt's progress. When it was suggested for the first time through a media report that Elstadt was prepared for a memory, he was rightly asked. Why should I remember in South Africa – with all its resources and with a multitude of flank options for a player without escaping Europe?
This led to a new question. In fact, does he offer at age 29 something different?
Elstadt wore T-shirt nº 7 while playing in Toulouse. In Europe and Australasia, this number is reserved for the open flank.
Elstadt is the first to admit that it is not Richie McCaw or David Pocock. Why then do you need an opensider with preference for physics?
"I think a lot of people are making noises about anything," Elstadt said when asked about his transition from blindness to opening.
'I'm not what you would call a fetcher. My job is to come first and secure the ball to the break. If I do my job, I hope I can attack the platform from the next phase. & # 39;
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Elstadt still seems to be out of place in the second row of Bok. Erasmus said on Wednesday that the selection of Elstadt, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Francois Louw in the loose trio, as well as a tightened physique of five, should provide a ball against the Wallabies on the front of the front foot.
It may seem that players like Elstadt and Louw have been chosen to curb the game. Erasmus, however, suggested that a more physical advantage package would involve a more intense attack on Ellis Park.
Elstadt admitted that it will have to adapt quickly.
"A match against Australians will require a step forward. Top 14 is slower in terms of rhythm, but collisions are harder.
"Over the past two weeks I have worked hard with the Boks to adapt. I hope that the adjustment is done on Saturday.
"This is a great honor to have an opportunity with the Boks," he added. "I will do my best to put the Boks to win."
Photo: Christiaan Kotze / Backpage Pix