Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis deserve to have the Boks’ full backing during the World Cup knockout stage, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Despite their undeniable success at both provincial and international level, the two brothers have tended to divide opinion at various stages of their careers, with ill-discipline most often the root cause of fans’ frustration.
Although Bismarck undoubtedly came into this tournament as the Boks’ first-choice hooker, having won the rights to the No 2 jersey with some outstanding performances in the Rugby Championship, he hasn’t quite been at his bullish best at the World Cup so far.
After the Japan nightmare, the abrasive hooker made way for Adriaan Strauss – described as a pre-planned rotational change for an expected hostile clash against Samoa – but there were also whispers about concerns over his penalty count.
Strauss is the sort of player that will never let you down, but he doesn’t boast the same sort of presence that Du Plessis does, or the ability to influence proceedings in so many different facets of play.
Bismarck is the man the Boks need to have in the frontlines as they head into their crucial, brutal quarter-final battle against Wales, and he’s the type of player that can inspire them to a semi-final berth and beyond.
Du Plessis has retained the No 2 jersey for the final two pool games, with Strauss and Schalk Brits alternating on the bench, and that really is as far as the debate should go: is Strauss or Brits the Boks’ best bet as a substitute?
Strauss is a warrior, a strong leader and boasts underrated mobility, but Brits fits the mould of an ideal impact player, with his speed and vast skills offering the potential to completely change the tempo of the game when needed.
Yet, there is no substitute for the raw power and passion of Bismarck, who may not have set this tournament alight just yet, but is the type of individual who will rise to the occassion when it matters most.
His older brother Jannie will surely line up alongside him in the Boks’ starting front row against Wales, but there is no denying the heat that has been turned up on him by impressive young buck, Frans Malherbe.
The Stormers’ strongman is an incredible prospect, and at just 24 years of age, he should go on to become one of the Boks’ front row greats.
Malherbe came in for high praise from Nick Mallett after the Boks’ last pool game against the USA, with the former national coach highlighting his superb scrumming technique that enabled the Boks to completely dominate this set piece.
Du Plessis missed that match with a minor niggle, but his experience and front row guile cannot be taken for granted.
Jannie is a player and person that has always worn his heart on his sleeve, and it’s these emotions and passion for the game that is sure to drive him to perform at his peak at the business end of his last World Cup.
The Boks have the ability to dominate a bruised and battered Welsh side at the set pieces and in the physical exchanges, which should also enable them to outclass a Wales back division decimated by injury.
This quarter-final clash can be won with a typical South African display of power, physicality and passion, and in this regard, there are no better men to have at the helm than the Du Plessis brethren.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images