Boks to stick with 6-2 split on the bench, says forwards coach Deon Davids
Share this article:
JOHANNESBURG – One of the talking points ahead of their first Rugby Championship clash against Australia this past weekend was the curious 6-2 split on the bench that had tongues-a-wagging, pundits pondering, and supporters questioning.
The Bomb Squad, as the replacements have been labelled in the Erasmus/Nienaber era, had the unique selection of three loose-forwards – Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith and Jasper Wiese – who came on in the latter stages of the 28-26 loss to the Wallabies.
At the time, coach Jacques Nienaber explained that with three locks in the starting XV in the pairing of Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, with Franco Mostert on the blindside, there would be more than adequate cover for the second-row. Picking those three loosies on the bench, he rationalised, might seem odd on paper but would ultimately benefit the Boks.
To a certain degree it did, especially with Wiese and Van Staden running hard at the gainline, and Smith making a crucial turnover during the match. On Tuesday, while speaking to the media about their preparations for the return match against the Aussies, Bok forwards coach Deon Davids revealed his belief that the selection did pay dividends.
“If you look at the flow of the game,” said Davids, “and how close we came to winning the game and the impact that those three players had when they replaced our starting loose-trio, I think it worked for us.
“It is something that we will definitely consider for this upcoming game,” Davids explained, regarding the possibility of there being a change-up this weekend.
“There might be changes in terms of what our thought-process was behind it and how we challenge the Australians later in the game. I think those three players made an impact when they came onto the field.”
Due to the injury to 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit, Mostert has taken up the responsibility to fill the No 7 jersey as part of the current strategy. Sous described this new experience as “unbelievable,” and if reading between the lines was an exact science, one would decree that he will once again be on the side of the scrum on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium.
“The journey has been unbelievable,” said Mostert.
“Firstly, I think any player would be willing to play any number to be in the Bok 23, to be in this group is amazing. Secondly, to take over from a guy like Pieter-Steph, who is a brilliant rugby player, who is so good on the flank, it was a massive honour for me. I’m trying to fill his shoes and all I can do is to give it my best.
“Hopefully, I will make him proud in the way that I play and in the way that I wear the No 7 jersey. I want to make all the Springbok players that have worn that jersey, my teammates, and family; I want to make them all proud.
"It wasn’t difficult at all,” he said regarding the adjustment to the new role and position.
“The coaches have backed me, coach Jacques, coach Deon backed me and chose me there just shows me that they see it as a positive. It makes it easier for me. The journey has been lekker so far and unbelievable.”
Nienaber chooses his matchday 23 for the match on Wednesday.