Buckle up Mzansi ... Springboks make intentions clear with powerful 7-1 ‘bomb squad’ for Ireland clash

FILE - Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

FILE - Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Published Sep 19, 2023


Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has decided to unleash a 7-1 split on the bench in favour of the forwards for Saturday night’ crunch Rugby World Cup match against Ireland.

Nienaber made 13 personnel changes and a positional to the Springboks’ team who ran out convincing winners against Romania, reverting back to the nuclease of the team who ran out in their opener against Scotland.

But it’s the South Africans’ bench that will be the biggest talking point after the Springboks decided to go with a 7-1 split, last used in the record-breaking win against the All Blacks in Twickenham two weeks before the start of the tournament.

Only two players from the Romania game retain their places in the run-on team, with Bongi Mbonambi now the No 1 hooker following Malcolm Marx’s injury and utility back Damian Willemse, who moves from flyhalf to fullback.

In the pack, lock Eben Etzebeth is fit to take his place in the team alongside Franco Mostert, while the loose trio of captain Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jasper Wiese also reunites.

Outside them, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and flyhalf Manie Libbok are back at halfback, while Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe will patrol the wings outside of the centre pairing of Damian de Allende and Kriel.

Nienaber’s seven-one bench will see Deon Fourie continue as hooker, while Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane will provide prop reinforcements with the Munster lock duo of Jean Kleyn – who played five Tests for Ireland which included wearing the light green jumper in the 2019 Rugby World Cup – and RG Snyman are paired on the bench with loose forwards Marco van Staden and the versatile Kwagga Smith, who can cover wing as well thanks to his Springboks Sevens’ experience.

The single back on Nienaber’s bench is scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, who also provides cover at wing.

“Ireland are a quality team with a strong pack of forwards and talented backs, and they play with a lot of speed, so we know what we have to do to deliver a top-drawer performance for things to go our way,” said Nienaber.

“We faced them late last year and we’ve been keeping an eye on their performances this year, so everyone knows what we have to do this weekend.

“We’re fortunate to have a match-fit squad and have been building depth and versatility for a while and believe this is the best combination for this match. For many of these players this is their second or third World Cup, so they know what it takes to perform at this level, and we believe this team has the right balance of players to achieve what we would like to achieve in this match.

“We know it’s going to be a grind of a match and we know we need to pitch up physically and mentally. We also need to start with intensity and stay focused until the final whistle.

“This is a massive game for both sides with an eye to progressing out of our pool, so we need to be extremely accurate in all areas of our game.”

The Boks returned to the training field on Tuesday after having Monday off to rest and recover as they made the trip from Bordeaux to Paris by train.

Springboks side for Ireland:

15, Damian Willemse; 14, Kurt-Lee Arendse; 13, Jesse Kriel; 12, Damian de Allende; 11, Cheslin Kolbe; 10, Manie Libbok; 9, Faf de Klerk; 8, Jasper Wiese; 7, Pieter-Steph du Toit; 6, Siya Kolisi (captain); 5, Franco Mostert; 4, Eben Etzebeth; 3, Frans Malherbe; 2, Bongi Mbonambi; 1, Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16, Deon Fourie; 17, Ox Nche; 18, Trevor Nyakane; 19, Jean Kleyn; 20, RG Snyman; 21, Marco van Staden; 22, Kwagga Smith; 23, Cobus Reinach.

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