Deon Fourie’s outing against Romania will determine who Springboks call up to replace Malcolm Marx

The Springboks’ Deon Fourie will get a proper run out at hooker against Romania. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The Springboks’ Deon Fourie will get a proper run out at hooker against Romania. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Sep 16, 2023


The show must go on ...

That is the refrain from the Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber who says the training ground accident that has robbed the team of mighty Malcolm Marx cannot be allowed to cloud the objective — successfully defending the Webb Ellis Cup.

Nienaber, speaking on the eve of his team’s Rugby World Cup match against Romania tomorrow (3pm) says now ain’t the time for tears.

“When players get injured you can look at it as the cup is half empty or the cup is half full, and we look at it as the cup is half full because if there wasn’t injuries a few years ago Malcolm wouldn’t have been in the mix. Sometimes injury or loss of form gives players the opportunity and then they become world stars. Adversity can open the door for different players to step up.”

Romania copped 80 points from Ireland last week and the Springboks are sure to give them a klap but Nienaber is too focused on the end goal to get bogged down by the Malcolm Marx setback or to take the eastern Europeans too lightly.

“The injury to Malcolm has not affected our team going into this match, not at all,” the coach said. “We will discuss it after the game — we’re fully focused on Romania because they deserve respect. It’s only the second time we’ve played them in a World Cup so it’s a special game for us. We should also show respect to the players that we have chosen for this match, so we’re not talking about anything other than Romania.”

The fact is that while there are 14 changes to the Springboks’ starting line-up that beat Scotland, the players coming in are bristling with intent. They are hungry to prove they should be involved in next week’s big one against Ireland, and onwards.

Nobody in this Springboks team is going to be in cruise mode because the opposition are lightweights. Everyone wants to be in top form because, to labour a point, injuries happen. There will be more and the players want to make sure they are at the front of the queue.

To illustrate, Deon Fourie is suddenly the back-up hooker and all eyes will be on him when he replaces Bongi Mbonambi in the second half. Can he make the step up in a position he has not played for a decade? If he fails, then maybe they will call up a specialist hooker on Monday.

If he performs well, we may see Handre Pollard make a spectacular return to the Springboks after injury ruled him out of the initial squad.

I love the backline that is playing against Romania and I had to laugh when I saw that Nienaber has picked all four scrumhalves for this match. When the World Cup squad was named last month, eyebrows were raised at the number of 9s and now Nienaber has picked them all for one game.

The bottom line is that they are all classy players and in this type of game, speedsters Cobus Reinach and Grant Williams could well score hat-tricks. If you are a betting man you read it here first.

And then Faf de Klerk is going to have a cameo at flyhalf when Damian Willemse comes off.

“Faf played flyhalf at school. He has also played flyhalf for the Lions in Super Rugby and also for Sale Sharks in the Premiership,” Nienaber explained.

“Yes, there are four 9s but a lot of them have played different positions. That versatility that we get from them is very nice for us.

“I’m not being disrespectful to Romania but it’s an opportunity to try Faf out in a Test match under pressure at 10. He’s trained there for us numerous times. We’ve said Faf is our third-choice flyhalf but now we can see if he can control the game at 10 at Test-match level.”

Springboks Team

15 Willie le Roux 14 Grant Williams 13 Canan Moodie 12 Andre Esterhuizen 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Damian Willemse 9 Cobus Reinach 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Kwagga Smith 6 Marco van Staden 5 Marvin Orie 4 Jean Kleyn 3 Vincent Koch 2 Bongi Mbonambi (captain) 1 Ox Nche.

Bench: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20, Jasper Wiese, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Jesse Kriel.

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