Boks boast back-row strength

Breakdown coach Richie Gray believes the Springboks have an ‘embarrassment of riches’ in the loose trio, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Although Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee are recovering from injures, all three are still expected to be available for World Cup contention, with the Boks’ 31-man squad set to be unveiled on Friday.

Willem Alberts also recently made his comeback from injury, and considering how impressively Schalk Burger has slotted into the back row, with Heinrich Brüssow re-emerging as a strong contender in addition to the likes of Siya Kolisi and Oupa Mohoje, the greater challenge will relate to who should make the cut.

‘If you think of the back rowers we have on paper, take away the injuries and consider if everyone is fit and healthy, you could list up to 10 players [who could go to the World Cup], and there’s still some in the Currie Cup who could put their hand up,' Gray commented. 'It's an embarrassment of riches really, [Bok coach] Heyneke [Meyer] is going to have a tough job deciding on who to take.’

With the breakdown battle in mind, Gray said there was a need to give careful consideration to the composition of the back row for different contests and opposition.

‘You do want a blend there because there are different games going through the [World Cup] tournament. And as we’ve seen in the Rugby Championship, when we picked two opensiders against New Zealand, and Australia did the same, it can change the ebb and flow of the game. You want to have lots of different players who are capable of stealing ball if given the opportunity, and you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket when making the back-row selections.’

Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

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