Daniel Jacobus Erasmus
- 198Wallaby Number
Daniel Erasmus, a South African-born winger, was given his chance on the 1923 tour of New Zealand when a number of the State’s leading three-quarters declared themselves unavailable for the tour. At 6ft (1.83m) and 13st 4lb (85kg) Erasmus was one of the biggest men in the team – only Ted Thorn among the forwards was heavier and three players, all of whom stood 6ft 1in, were taller – and his good speed and strength made him a difficult proposition near the goal-line.
Erasmus entered calculations for a tour place when he played for Metropolitan Union against the Maori team in 1923. Although the match was played on a waterlogged pitch Erasmus had a decent game, scoring one try after a powerful burst down the sideline in which he bumped off a couple of tacklers near the line. He was duly chosen in the team and got a further break when the six University players were unable to join the side until the third match due to the clash between the tour and the examiners. Erasmus therefore got the early games every tourist wants, even if the side was heavily beaten at Wellington and he saw little ball. He held his place for the next match, against South Canterbury, and demonstrated his power in scoring the opening try after fielding a wayward clearance and running it back for the score.
Once again he brushed off tacklers on the way and his overall game won praise from the critics. After two good efforts he was a certainty to be named in the first Test team and was duly named for the Dunedin match. His part in the match was limited, though, as he left the field after a few minutes following a heavy tackle by his marker, Frank Snodgrass. He recovered in time to take his place in the second international but that proved an unhappy experience, as New Zealand overran the visitors in winning 34-6. Erasmus scored one of the two tries when he finished off a backline move with a typically strong scoring run but none of the visitors played a particularly noteworthy game.
Things did not improve at Napier, where Hawkes Bay Combined gave the tourists a thumping, but Erasmus showed the value of being alert for mistakes in the opposition. His first try that day came when he intercepted a pass and easily broke the one tackle he faced, while his second came as a result of good following up when a Hawkes Bay player fumbled near the line. He was one of the few tourists to get favourable press after the match and again won praise from the scribes after the Auckland match, where his strong running was a match highlight even though his team was well beaten. Surprisingly, Erasmus was dropped from the team for the third Test – Allen Bowers replaced him – and he was never chosen again. Not long after his only tour he returned to South Africa, where he played for Transvaal in first-class matches.