Rassie: A PRO14 player can also be considered for the Springboks
Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has given the Cheetahs and Southern Kings' PRO14 players hope of being picked for the national side.
"They must know that this competition is not a disadvantage for a player to be considered for the Springboks. The real challenge is to perform well in this competition," Erasmus told Netwerk24 on Tuesday.
Erasmus was in Bloemfontein on Tuesday where he paid the Cheetahs a visit, as part of his countrywide tour to collaborate ideas with all six of the country's franchises.
Erasmus told OFM he talked to Smith about players he and his coaching team think have the potential to become Springboks.
"I know that positions 9, 2, 5, 10 and 15 are positions in the PRO14 that are really challenging because of the conditions, the different refereeing interpretations, and different pressures.
"It’s a really a different style that a player must get used to, and (Cheetahs scrumhalf) Shaun Venter is definitely a player that I am looking at. In the PRO14 it is all about tactical awareness and the handling pressure. We are looking at all of these players, but we want consistency from these players."
The Bok mentor added that these players may not be earmarked for 2019, but with an eye on the future.
"We (the Springbok coaching team) talked to every (Super Rugby) coach about a player management programme. We obviously can't prescribe to them but we discussed how many minutes each player will spend on the field and when they will rest. And I have to say, all four the coaches bought into it.
"With Franco the discussion was totally different because the competitions run at different dates, but it was good discussions. We talked about every player at every franchise."
The Springboks will play five Tests before the Rugby World Cup in Japan. They will play three Rugby Championship Tests - Australia (Johannesburg, July 20), New Zealand (Wellington, July 27) and Argentina (away at a yet to be determined venue, August 10).
The Boks will play an additional Test against Argentina in Pretoria (August 17), as well as a World Cup warm-up game against Japan in Saitama (September 6).
The World Cup runs from September 20 until November 2.
South Africa open their Pool B account against New Zealand in Yokohama (Saturday, September 21), followed by matches against Namibia in Toyota (Saturday, September 28), Italy in Fukuroi (Friday, October 4) and Canada in Kobe (Tuesday, October 8).