The Springbok bench at the World Cup won’t be the same from four years ago in Japan, writes ROB HOUWING, and will be under pressure to live up to its proud mantle.
En route to winning rugby’s global showpiece in 2019, SA’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus – then head coach – adopted a system of setting up his bench for maximum impact, by using a six-two split (six forwards and two backs).
The group, especially in the forwards, came to be known as the Bomb Squad, but of those who featured off the wood in the Yokohama final only five were selected in the 33-man contingent to defend the Webb Ellis Cup this year – Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff Vincent Koch, RG Snyman and Franco Mostert.
Writing for News24, Houwing argues that the six-two approach has had mixed success during the current calendar year, and it will be interesting to see whether the Boks go “so pack-heavy” among their substitutes for key matches in France.
He writes: “While several of the same super-subs of four years ago remain firmly on the squad radar for the defence of the Webb Ellis Cup in France, just how many of them will replicate their impact roles this time?
“There is a rising school of thought that both Kitshoff and Marx, of the front-row figures, warrant starting Tests in France rather than revisiting their 2019 roles.
“What of Snyman and Mostert, then? My gut feel is only one of the two will find himself among the impact personnel for big Bok games in France.
“The Bok bench looks like being much-changed, then, from 2019 … perhaps only featuring a quarter of that celebrated old guard.
“Whoever the new figures are, they’ll be under pressure to live up to the proud Bomb Squad mantle.”