Italy have called up uncapped number eight Jacobus Erasmus to their 22-man squad for the RBS Six Nations clash with France on 9 March.
Erasmus is a former Natal boy & Sharks supporter, having played alongside his old mate Robin Linde throughout his schools rugby career. After completing his studies, & a spell playing club rugby for the North Coast Rhinos, Erasmus went abroad & ended up playing club rugby in the lower Italian leagues. His natural athletic talent was spotted & in 2001 he was signed by Bologna. Then in 2003, he was signed by Benetton Treviso before moving to Viadana in 2006. In the meantime he has also been capped by the Italian Sevens & Italy “A” teams.
Jaco is quiet a prolific tryscorer, due to his remarkable pace for a loose forward – in fact both his build & playing style are reminiscent of the Sharks’s very own Ryan Kankowski. However, the 6 foot 5 inches Erasmus has another string in his bow in that he is also able to play lock.
During the 2008 Heineken Cup, Erasmus scored 4 tries for Viadana in their matches against Saracens & Glasgow Warriors. This places him in joint second place on the list of top try scorers after the pool games (Richard Haughton & Aurelien Rougerie are tied for first place with 5 tries apiece).
Given that key locks Mauro Bergamasco and Carlo del Fava have been left out of the squad, with both players attending disciplinary hearings on Wednesday, Erasmus may very well have been called up to cover lock. Unfortunately for him, Italy’s two best players – Sergio Parisse & Mauro Bergamasco – are competing for his favoured position. However, I think Erasmus may prove an invaluable addition to the Italian bench as they seek to introduce playmakers into the set-up.
Backs David Bortolussi and Pablo Canavosio are still out with injury, but winger Kaine Robertson returns to the set-up.
The Azzurri are still seeking their first win of the tournament.
Italy squad:Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais), G Canale (Clermont-Auvergne), E Galon (Overmach Cariparma), A Masi (Biarritz), K Robertson (Arix Viadana), A Marcato (Treviso), S Picone (Treviso), A Sgarbi (Treviso), E Patrizio (Petrarca Padova), J Erasmus (Montepaschi Viadana), A Galante (Rolly Gran Parma), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), L Ghiraldini (Calvisano), A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro Paris), S Parisse (Stade Francais), F Ongaro (Saracens), S Perugini (Toulouse), J Sole (Arix Viadana), A Zanni (Calvisano), M Bortolami (Gloucester), C Nieto (Gloucester), P Travagli (Overmach Cariparma) Tweet