Ox Nche says the decision to replace the Springboks’ starting front-row at half-time was not pre-planned and that he was ready to play the full first Test against the British & Irish Lions if needed.
Nche, together with teammates Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane, was part of the Springboks’ starting front-row that enjoyed an excellent first 40 minutes in the first Test against the Lions on Saturday.
The starting prop duo was somewhat surprisingly named ahead of expected incumbents Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, but more than held their own against a tough Lions scrum, with Nche achieving levity against wily campaigner Tadhg Furlong.
However, Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber made the call to replace his entire front-row during the half-time break. Unfortunately for the Springboks, this did not pay off, as Kitshoff, Malherbe and hooker Malcolm Marx failed to provide the same sort of impact as has become expected from the ‘Bomb Squad”.
Following the Springboks’ loss to the Lions, Nche admitted that, as far as he had been informed, it was not pre-planned to bring him, Nyakane and Mbonambi off at the interval.
“It wasn’t [a set plan],” Nche said. “I think the Bomb Squad wasn’t meant to come on that early, but it just went that way.”
Nche explained that he was prepared and fit enough to play the full 80 minutes, but accepted that the call was made with the best intentions.
“I mean, that’s how we practice. As a rugby player, you should be able to play a full game, especially at international level. The intensity requires you to be able to play 80 minutes because you never know what might happen. What the team needs and what the coaches feel is right.”
On his battle with Ireland tighthead Furlong in the first half, Nche said that his homework on his opposite number paid off.
“I did my homework on him and knew how highly-rated he is and what I needed to do at our scrum. I just study him and prepare, imagine the worst-case scenario so today could go the way it went.
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