Rassie Erasmus got his tenure as Springbok coach off to a bittersweet start — with the series already wrapped up, the Boks were denied a whitewash on Saturday. Eddie Jones' England side got a gift from the weather gods in Cape Town and must have felt like they were playing at home, inflicting a 25-10 defeat in the final Test of the series on a sodden pitch at DHL Newlands. Nevertheless, the Springboks retained a 2-1 series win that bodes well for the new coach.
I really think we can win the World Cup. If we can get it right quickly then we are definitely in with a chance – but we have to manage our talent.Rassie Erasmus
Although disappointed by Saturday's result, Erasmus was optimistic about the future and has a lot of faith in his young Bok side.
"I really think we can win the World Cup," he said after the match. "If we can get it right quickly, then we are definitely in with a chance — but we have to manage our talent. There's a lot of things we have to balance so that we have fresh, experienced team with a lot of talent when we go to the World Cup."
Erasmus definitely has an eye on the future, putting his faith in young players and balancing them with experienced players to guide the team.
The coach's first Test victory was helped a lot by his team selection — and certain players rewarding that selection by delivering stellar performances in the green and gold.
HuffPost singled out five Springboks who shone bright in Erasmus' maiden Test series victory.
5. Aphiwe Dyantyi
There's a new number 11 in town. Aphiwe Dyantyi may have raised a few eyebrows when he was selected, but he proved to be worth it. The former University of Johannesburg and Golden Lions winger confounded the England defence and his partnership with Sbu Nkosi was a breath of fresh air in the Boks backline.
He scored a try on debut against England at Ellis Park, then topped that with the fifth try of the match to seal SA's 42-39 victory. He delivered a steady performance in the next two Tests, and appears to have a long and glittering future ahead of him — he only turns 24 in August.
4. Handré Pollard
After being sidelined due to injury during Allister Coetzee's term as Bok coach, Pollard's return to the Springboks setup proved he is arguably the best flyhalf in the country. The evergreen performer can always be trusted — he's remarkably consistent in his ability with the boot, as his displays against England proved.
At the age of 24, Pollard is already number five on South Africa's all-time points-scoring charts, with 246 points — he was also top scorer in the 2015 IRB World Cup. His performances against England proved he can be trusted with the number 10 jersey, and should the Boks continue with their current momentum, he could ultimately become one of SA's most clinical kickers.
3. Sbu Nkosi
The 22-year-old stole all the headlines in his first Test, when he made a dream debut and scored two tries against England — validating Erasmus' decision to start him on the wing.
The Sharks winger injected new blood into the backline alongside Dyantyi — the two were shining examples who amply rewarded Erasmus's bold decision to give young blood a chance.
South Africa has got some bloody young players and incredible depth. They have made some really good gains over the past few weeks and they will continue to get stronger.Rassie Erasmus
We expect to see a lot more of him in the green and gold — will a crowd roar of "Sbuuuu" soon become as familiar as that full-throated "Beeeeeast!"?
2. Faf de Klerk
"The architect" was pulling all the strings at scrum-half for Erasmus — the pint-sized mercurial number 9 was the focal point of all those attacks coming from the backline. De Klerk was a leader in attack, taking the initiative and unafraid to take risks.
In the first Test, when the Boks were getting thumped by England at the start, he was the spark that ignited the team's resurgence — it was De Klerk's man-of-the-match performance that saw SA come back in a nail-bitting match.
He should also be lauded for the way he controls the tempo of the game and dictates play — almost like a quarterback in American football.
1. Siya Kolisi
"Oh captain, my captain" — SA's rugby-loving public have taken instantly to the new Bok leader. Kolisi has proved in short order why he deserves the Springbok captaincy — even when the Boks were staring defeat in the face during the first Test, his composed leadership and calm decisions marshalled the troops and put SA back on the path to victory.
He looks more than capable of leading the nation tot the 2019 IRB Rugby World Cup.
Born in Zwide township near Port Elizabeth, the 26-year-old loose forward silenced the critics — and quickly shifted the focus in his captaincy from that "first black captain" label to his proficiency in the role. Nobody can still be in any doubt that the enormous faith Erasmus placed in him was anything but merit-based.