Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Stick bemused by sudden spotlight on Springbok kicking game

The Bok assistant coach also spoke about the selection of Joseph Dweba at hooker ahead of first Test hero Malcolm Marx.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick was bemused by the sudden spotlight and noise built up around the team’s kicking game ahead of the second Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday (kick-off 5:05pm).

All Blacks coach Ian Foster made a big stink about what he thought was dangerous play by the Bok kick chasers during the first Test, after an ugly clash between Kurt-Lee Arendse and Beauden Barrett ended with Arendse red carded and banned for four weeks.

However Stick pointed out that this was how they had always played and was nothing different to what they had done before.

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“It’s funny how all of a sudden the aerial skills and the contestable kicking game is all of a sudden a problem in the game. We have always played like this, we don’t hide how we play the game. The kicking game is part of our DNA,” explained Stick.

“We won’t change anything. It was an unfortunate situation at the end (of the first Test) when Kurt-Lee Arendse, who had been contesting nicely throughout the game, got a red card. He just missed his timing with the last jump and he got punished with a red card and suspension.

“I know one thing for sure, it wasn’t his intention. That’s not how we coach. We don’t coach to cause injuries, we always coach by the law. Kurt-Lee did apologise to Beauden Barrett and we always try to play in a good spirit.”

Hooker decisions

Stick was also quizzed on the decision to start Joseph Dweba at hooker, after Bongi Mbonambi who was initially named to start picked up a knock in training during the week, instead of promoting first Test hero Malcolm Marx back to the starting line-up.

“We had a massive debate before we selected the team. Malcolm Marx had a great game last week. Man of the match, four turnovers in the game, it was a special day being his 50th game and he did very well. He was massive,” said Stick.

“But we know what he has done for us in the past as part of the bomb squad. If you look at the combinations that we’ve got in the team Marx with (Steven) Kitshoff and Vincent Koch there, they have done it many times as a combination.

“Also with Ox (Nche) getting a chance to start at loosehead prop, it was an opportunity for us to get the combinations right. If you look at Ox and Joseph Dweba they have been playing together since the age of 19 and at the Cheetahs.

“So as a coaching staff it made sense to back the combinations and that’s the only reason Joseph is starting ahead of Malcolm this weekend.”

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