Erasmus must take some risks and give Kwagga a gallop
Springboks / 23 September 2019, 2:00pm / Mark Keohane
CAPE TOWN – If there was an area in which I think Rassie Erasmus missed a trick against the All Blacks it was in the missed opportunity to make an impact in the final quarter via the dynamic Kwagga Smith.
The Springbok coach was conservative in his bench selections in going for 34-year-old Francois Louw ahead of the 26-year-old Sevens star.
This match was always going to be tight and the last quarter was where then likes of Kwagga could have produced a game-changing moment.
As it was, we saw how another X-factor player in Cheslin Kolbe just about won it for the Boks towards the end of the game. Imagine if Kwagga, with his energetic support play, was on the field at the same time as Kolbe in that desperate last quarter?
I thought Louw was pedestrian in his time on the field as a replacement at a time when the Boks needed innovation and urgency.
I thought Ardie Savea was exceptional at open side flank for the All Blacks and the Boks lacked a player of that imaginative impact.
The Boks need to have variety in their game the next time they play a major game which, besides Italy to an extent, will be their quarter-final against (in all probability) Ireland.
On the subject of Kolbe and his sublime performance on the wing, there surely must be an exploration on how to further maximise his considerable talents.
For the Boks to win the World Cup, Rassie has to come up with a trump card or two of them, one of them could be picking Kolbe at fullback for the palpably out of form Willie le Roux.
The fullback has been struggling all year and to me is a player bereft of confidence.
This was especially obvious in his (non-performance) under the high ball, which contrasted with how brave and efficient Kolbe was in the same regard.
It would be a big call to drop Le Roux but it is fact is the Boks need something special to win the big games, such as the one lost at the weekend to the All Blacks.
The reality is that Kolbe is in red hot form and Erasmus should consider how best to exploit this.
And if Kolbe is moved to his best position of fullback, this was would free up the right wing spot for Sbu Nkosi.
He is another X-factor player and a wing that is ruthlessly efficient at finishing off try-scoring opportunities. We saw this in his two tries against Argentina a month ago, in his comeback match at international level.
While it might seem harsh to suggest ditching Le Roux, the bottom line is that Nkosi is in form, so is Kolbe, so why not have them operating in tandem in the back three?
Erasmus has some freedom to experiment ahead of the quarter-finals - this Bok team is hardly going to lose to Italy, Canada and Namibia - so he really should look at boosting his back three options.