South Africa boss Rassie Erasmus expecting some surprises from Warren Gatland

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Rassie Erasmus believes that old rival Warren Gatland is plotting a few tactical surprises for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

Erasmus coached against Gatland’s Wales on three occasions, losing the first two before masterminding a 19-16 victory in the 2019 World Cup semi-final with the Springboks going on to be crowned global champions.

The need to match South Africa physically while also offering a cutting edge in attack has shaped Gatland’s squad selection, but Erasmus suspects the New Zealander may also be preparing an ambush for the Test series.

Rassie Erasmus will mastermind South Africa's challenge against the Lions
Warren Gatland (left) and Rassie Erasmus will lock horns over three Tests (David Davies/PA)

“We are not friends. I don’t go and have a BBQ with him when I see him, but he is a guy that I’ve always felt has the right intention with coaching,” SA Rugby director of rugby Erasmus said.

“There is never a weird, funny feeling after a match – lose or win. I enjoy him as a person and I think we have very similar mindset in terms of coaching and that’s why it’s always such a weird tussle when we play.

“The way Warren has picked his Lions squad, his backline, his support staff and assistant coaches with Gregor Townsend in there, I think he has something up his sleeve.

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“I don’t think we will see the battle of attrition and grinding it out like in the World Cup. I think he has other plans.

“I think we will see a change in his gameplan, but he might just be throwing us some bait, I’m not sure.

“Finishing with two Highveld games and the loose forwards that he has picked, I think he has a few plans.”