Reinach 'excellent' with Springboks No .9 spot open after De Klerk injury

Paris (AFP) – South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber said on Sunday Cobus Reinach was "excellent" for French club Montpellier this weekend, putting him in contention to replace injured first-choice Test scrum-half Faf de Klerk for next month's internationals.

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Reinach, 31, scored twice as his club beat Racing 92 in the Top 14 on Saturday and will compete with the Stormers' Herschel Jantjies and the Sharks' Grant Williams for a starting berth.

The Rugby World Cup holders head to Wales on November 6, Scotland a week later and England on November 20.

"I saw the highlights and I thought he was quite good, I thought he was excellent," Nienaber told a press conference.

"The guys know what they have to do to put their hands up. Between Cobus, Herschel and Grant it's going to be a tough one.

"We must know that no-one is irreplaceable and the players must know they have to perform," he added.

Nienaber's side are in France this week to avoid Covid-19 quarantine in Britain, before heading to Cardiff.

All but nine of the 32-man squad are in Paris with the remainder set to join the set-up after featuring for their European sides.

"Those who have the chance to play for their clubs must play well to stake their claim for selection," Nienaber said.

"The players who are now with us in this group must train well to stake their claim for selection.

"I don't think there will be surprises in selection. I will be surprised if the players slack in terms of their training or club performances," he added.

'Our 10' Pollard

Part of the travelling group watched Montpellier's win in the French capital as Boks fly-half Handre Pollard started at centre for his club after ending October 2's win over the All Blacks in midfield.

South Africa's Handre Pollard has never started a Test at centre
South Africa's Handre Pollard has never started a Test at centre Patrick HAMILTON AFP/File

"Handre is our 10, he will probably always be our 10," Nienaber said.

"But it's always nice, if you think how we finished the game against New Zealand, to have that option and versatility," he added.

During this summer's British and Irish Lions series, South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was the Springboks' water carrier during matches.

Erasmus is the subject of a World Rugby misconduct hearing, on October 30-31, having criticised referee Nic Berry after the first Test in a 62-minute online video.

"In the Test games against the British and Irish Lions, World Rugby came out and made a third water carrier spot available," Nienaber said.

"It was a role we fulfilled internally and gave Rassie the opportunity.

"We're now back to two water carriers so there's no space for him. He will be in the (coaches') box with us at the top," he added.