Mariette Adams and Dylan Jack debate which forward would be best suited for a switch to the backline should the Springboks need that against Italy on Friday.
Jack says RG Snyman
Rassie Erasmus gambled by opting for a 6-2 split on his bench, while leaving Kwagga Smith out of the match-day 23 entirely. As a former sevens player, Smith would certainly have been best suited for a temporary switch to the backline should the Boks lose three backs to injury on Friday.
However, with Smith out a bit of a conundrum remains as to which forward could play at least 20 minutes in the backline. Looking at both the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby and Rugby Championship season, I think RG Snyman could do a job in the midfield.
The lock has made some trademark-like runs and offloads for the Vodacom Bulls, often dovetailing brilliantly with franchise teammate Lood de Jager. In fact, Snyman made a total of 28 offloads in just 10 Super Rugby matches this year. That is more than three times as many as Malcolm Marx did, in four fewer games. Snyman also just about matches Marx for tackle breaks, making 15 to Marx’s 16.
Defensively, Snyman can also be relied upon to make his tackles as he had a 76% success rate in Super Rugby this year.
If the Springboks do get forced into a position where they need an auxiliary midfielder – with Damian de Allende or Lukhanyo Am perhaps off injured late in the game – they could do far worse than giving Snyman a chance to stretch his long legs and cause havoc with some strong carries.
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Adams says Malcolm Marx
Believing Italy’s biggest threat to be their forward assault, while knowing his side has to win this game to progress to the quarter-finals, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus made a calculated decision to fill his bench with six forwards and two backs for the encounter.
It could either go very well or horribly wrong, depending on the result. For now Springbok fans just have to trust that Eramsus knows best and believe that this unusual tactical ploy will get the team over the line.
However, if the worst happens and there are three backline injuries, just which forward will provide cover along with Herschel Jantjies and Frans Steyn?
In the (quite frankly puzzling) absence of Kwagga Smith, who would have been a perfect replacement to have in this situation, I’d back Malcolm Marx to do the job for the team.
We’ve all seen Marx in full flight, charging down a field somewhere in the world. But instead of using nimble footwork to step around defenders with the elegance, nuance and finesse of a model on the runway, he attempts to run through and over them like a raging bull. Stopping him sometimes seem like standing at a pedestrian crossing trying to stop a car, and perhaps that is exactly what is needed to inject some action into the Boks’ static attack at the back.
Italy doesn’t boast the best defence and Marx can definitely inflict a fair measure of damage when/if given free rein. Never one to shy away from confrontation, Marx will embrace the unique defensive duties required at the back.
I’m not saying I want there to be injuries – in fact I hope there are none – but if it happens, I’m keen to see some Malcolm Marx destruction.
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