Why Nienaber ditched the Bok ‘bomb squad’ for first Wallabies Test
Duane Vermeulen and Joseph Dweba have also been backed to start again despite their poor performances in the last Test.
Elton Jantjies will be a part of the Bok bench against the Wallabies this weekend. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has ditched the “bomb squad” for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test against Australia in Adelaide.
Gone are the six forwards and just two backs on the bench — the ‘bomb squad’ — for the match, which will kick off at 7.30am SA time Saturday.
Nienaber had picked six forwards on his bench for the two Tests against the All Blacks earlier this month, with a full front row, lock and two loose-forwards in the mix. There were thus just two backs on the bench — a scrumhalf and a utility player.
But after losing a back early in both contests against New Zealand — Faf de Klerk and then Jesse Kriel — the Boks were left with just one back replacement for nearly the entire match on both occasions, putting pressure on the players on the field to deliver the goods and stay fit and healthy.
Nienaber’s bench choices have come under scrutiny in recent weeks and he has now reverted to the more traditional bench make-up of five forwards (a front row, lock and loose-forward) and three backs for Saturday’s Test.
For this weekend, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert and Kwagga Smith will sub in the forwards, while Jadeen Hendrikse, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn will province cover and impact for thee backs.
Nienaber said there were two reasons behind his going back to a 5-3 split.
“We looked at what Australia will bring to the game, and that combined with our need to give Elton and Frans Steyn some vital game time, prompted us to select five forwards and three backs on the bench,” explained Nienaber on Monday.
“With Franco (Mostert) and Kwagga (Smith) on the bench, we will have cover at lock and loose forward, while Frans Steyn’s versatility will also be handy as he can cover centre and fullback.”
The Springboks go into the match on the back of a win and loss against New Zealand, while Australia also won one and lost one game against Argentina.
The other major selection news is Duane Vermeulen and Joseph Dweba getting another run after their poor showing in the last Test against the All Blacks, while Ox Nche will also pack down again in the front row.
Warrick Gelant has won the race to wear the No 14 jersey in the absence of Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Jesse Kriel.
The Boks and Wallabies will meet for a second time, in Sydney, next weekend.
Damian Willemse, Warrick Gelant, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche. Bench: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Jaden Hendrikse, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn