Mbongeni Mbonambi of South Africa takes a drink as Ox Nche looks on during the warm-up ahead of the first Test against the British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Mbongeni Mbonambi of South Africa takes a drink as Ox Nche looks on during the warm-up ahead of the first Test against the British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

’The Bomb Squad wasn’t meant to come on so early,’ says Bok prop Ox Nche

By Wynona Louw Time of article published Jul 25, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – Springbok loosehead prop Ox Nche says the front row’s substitution at half time in their 22-17 defeat to the British & Irish Lions in the first Test of the Series wasn’t pre-planned.

When Bok coach Jacques Nienaber named his side to tackle the Lions in the Series-opener at Cape Town Stadium, the front row was the standout selection.

While most would have expected Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff to fill the starting prop roles, Trevor Nyakane and Nche got the nod with Bongi Mbonambi starting at hooker.

ALSO READ: 4 talking points from the first Test between Springboks and British And Irish Lions

The trio produced an excellent first-half display against a tough Lions scrum, however, the entire front row was replaced during the half-time break.

Nche, playing in only his third Test, was the standout Bok on the day. Apart from his strong scrummaging, he also put in a big defensive display and was big with ball-in-hand.

In the second half, though, the fresh front row didn’t produce the same kind of impact.

ALSO READ: Warren Gatland reveals how tactical switch helped British Lions beat Springboks

In the build-up to the match, Nienaber said that they would assess players’ performances and that that would dictate when they leave the field.

During the post-match press conference, Nche backed it up and said that their front-row switch was not pre-planned.

“It wasn’t pre-planned,” Nche said. “I think the Bomb Squad wasn’t meant to come on that early, but it just went that way.”

ALSO READ: Siya Kolisi on Bok defeat to Lions: It was penalty after penalty, and we were our own enemies

Nche went on to say that while he feels he could have gone the full 80, he understands the coaches’ thinking.

“I mean, that’s how we practice. As a rugby player, you should be able to play a full game, especially at international level. The intensity requires you to be able to play 80 minutes because you never know what might happen. What the team needs and what the coaches feel is right.”

On his scrum battle with Ireland tighthead TadhgFurlong in the first half, Nche said: “I did my homework on him and knew how highly-rated he is and what I needed to do at our scrum. I just study him and prepare, imagine the worst-case scenario so today could go the way it went.”

ALSO READ: Springbok ratings: Ox Nche brought great energy, stood strong in the scrums

The Boks Will take on the Lions in the second Test at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

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