The Boks’ management team have reverted back to arguably their strongest line-up that battled it out against Scotland.
Eben Etzebeth makes a return from injury while the Springboks have stunningly backed their ‘bomb squad’ with them naming a 7-1 split on the bench for their massive Rugby World Cup pool match against Ireland at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday night.
The Boks made waves last month when the late injury withdrawal of Willie le Roux saw them name a 7-1 bench split for the first time against the All Blacks, with the gamble paying off as they racked up a record 35-7 win over their old foes.
However on this occasion their hand has not been forced with them purposefully backing a 7-1 split, with Cobus Reinach providing the only backline cover on the bench, while loose forward Kwagga Smith will also be providing emergency backline cover if it is needed.
‘Know what it takes’
“We’re fortunate to have a match-fit squad and have been building depth and versatility for a while and believe this is the best combination for this match,” explained Bok coach Jacques Nienaber of the 7-1 bench split.
“For many of these players this is their second or third World Cup, so they know what it takes to perform at this level, and we believe this team has the right balance of players to achieve what we would like to achieve in this match.
“We know it’s going to be a grind of a match and we know we need to pitch up physically and mentally. We also need to start with intensity and stay focused until the final whistle.
“This is a massive game for both sides with an eye to progressing out of our pool, so we need to be extremely accurate in all areas of our game.”
Back to their best
Etzebeth has recovered from the shoulder injury he picked up against Scotland to link up with Franco Mostert in the second row, while the only change to the starting XV that faced the Scots sees Bongi Mbonambi at hooker, after Malcolm Marx was ruled out of the tournament last week.
Deon Fourie provides the hooking cover on the bench, with Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman and Marco van Staden making up the rest of the ‘bomb squad.’
“Ireland are a quality team with a strong pack of forwards and talented backs, and they play with a lot of speed, so we know what we have to do to deliver a top-drawer performance for things to go our way,” said Nienaber.
“We faced them late last year and we’ve been keeping an eye on their performances this year, so everyone knows what we have to do this weekend.”
Damian Willemse, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk, Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (c), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff
Bench: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Cobus Reinach