South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus has a potential selection headache after third-choice scrum-half Cobus Reinach scored the fastest ever Rugby World Cup hat-trick in a dazzling individual display during Tuesday’s 66-7 Pool B win over minnows Canada.
The opposition may have been weak in comparison to what the Springboks will face in the tournament’s knock-out stages, but Reinach’s clinical personal performance was eye-catching, and his 11-minute hat-trick showed off his all-round qualities.
“We are fortunate to have three quality nines,” Erasmus told reporters in Kobe on Tuesday.
“Everybody knows Cobus’ X-factor, I knew his dad well and the moment he sniffs space, he has got exceptional speed.
“He has not had a lot of game-time since I have been coach, it has only really been now at the World Cup.”
His effort beat the previous record held by former Australia fullback Chris Latham, who took 25 minutes to score three times in a 142-0 thrashing of Namibia at the 2003 tournament.
Reinach, the son of former Bok wing Jaco, who died in a car accident in 1997, has watched as Faf de Klerk and youngster Herschel Jantjies have been preferred in what Erasmus terms his ‘A-team’ that played against New Zealand and Italy in the pool.
But his second try was one of the best individual efforts of the competition so far as he picked up the ball at the base of the ruck in his own 22, made a line-break and chipped the ball over a lone defender before collecting the kick and dotting down.
“He is a guy that when he gets space and is free, he has good anticipation, he is away. He is very opportunistic,” Erasmus said.
The Boks were dominant in the first half as they ran in seven tries and led 47-0 at the break, but found the going tougher in the second period when they started making unforced errors.
Erasmus was hesitant to suggest any of the side had put up their hand to make it into his A-team ahead of the quarter-finals.
“We have to see who our opponents will be. Japan and Ireland bring different things – one is aerial, one is nice clean rucks, one is forward dominant. Scotland plays a different way as well,” he said.
“So it is difficult to say this person or that one has put up their hand.
“And the moment the decision-making time gets cut down with quicker line-speed and pressure (against better opponents) in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, things change as well.”