Ahead of this Saturday’s World Cup clash in Yokohama, CRAIG LEWIS and JOHN GOLIATH pick the Bok bench they’d like to see against the All Blacks.
Lewis (editor) – With no serious injuries for the Springboks to worry about after the final warm-up game against Japan, the starting lineup is expected to pretty much pick itself for Saturday’s World Cup opener.
On Tuesday, it was good to see Trevor Nyakane running freely at training, and so the powerful prop should be cleared to take up his place on the bench.
There shouldn’t be too many other surprises. Of course, a case could be made for Lood de Jager earning inclusion ahead of RG Snyman among the substitutes, but the latter has evolved into an outstanding impact option.
Similarly to De Jager, Elton Jantjies and S’bu Nkosi will be unfortunate to miss out on a bench berth, but it’s Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel who will provide cover for flyhalf and wing, respectively.
Where I do think the Boks need to take a worthwhile gamble is when it comes to their back-row backup.
Although the Springbok coaches are likely to opt for the experience of Francois Louw, Kwagga Smith is the type of player who could come on in the final half an hour against the All Blacks, and have a game-defining influence.
The bench I’d pick: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) September 17, 2019
Goliath (senior contributor) – With Ardie Savea and Sam Cane in the same loose trio, the All Blacks are going to put a massive amount of pressure on the Springboks at the breakdown.
It’s a tough call, but I think playing flanks Francois Louw and Kwagga Smith off the bench will give the Boks a great edge in the last quarter. Both players can slow down the opposition’s ball, while they can also play a vital role in protecting the Boks’ possession on the ground.
It’s extremely hard for me to leave RG Snyman out of the squad, because he is a super, dynamic lock. But Pieter-Steph du Toit’s versatility provides lock cover. The Boks won’t be short of ball-carriers either, because Louw is the type of hybrid flank who also carries well and has good stopping power. Smith, of course, provides the X factor.
Among the backs, I’m going to make a big call and pick Elton Jantjies ahead of Frans Steyn. I think back to Wellington 2018 when he provided the Boks with a lot of energy off the bench and combined well with Handre Pollard, who moved to inside centre.
If the Boks are chasing the game in the second half, they will need a player to bring that spark. I just haven’t seen enough of that in the enigmatic Steyn this year to think he still is the impact player we all know he can be.
The negative about having Jantjies on the bench is that he can only cover flyhalf, while Steyn covers two or three positions. However, Jesse Kriel can also play centre, wing and fullback, which clears the path for Jantjies to sit on the bench.
The bench I’d pick: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Jesse Kriel.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets