By Lucky Maree
The smart money had it that Manie Libbok would come on at the start of the Springboks’ match against Tonga on Sunday and Handré Pollard would be eased in sometime during the second half but Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have taken the opposite route.
Both options have merits and it is probably the right thing because they can decide when to replace Pollard. It may happen at any time from 30 minutes onwards. On the opposite side of the same coin, the pressure kicks often come in the last quarter of the match.
Talk of the 7-1 split is, for the moment, out the window. Instead, the coaching team have swung the other way. Of course, with Libbok on the bench they were more or less forced to have three backs on the bench.
Jasper Wiese at eighth man and Duane Vermeulen at flank. Interesting.
Scrumhalf Grant Williams on the wing. Why?
Bongi Mbonambi is not in the team at all, probably wrapped in cotton wool for the quarter final matches, and it is also the right time to test Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden in the front row and particularly with the lineouts. But still, Bongi on the bench (whether he plays or not) would have been very comforting.
Understandably, it’s not South Africa’s strongest team, but it is still an important match. The Boks need to put a big score on the board and they need to get the bonus point. It is so unlikely as to be impossible, but you wouldn’t want to see them drop the ball at this stage of the World Cup.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Grant Williams, 13 Canan Moodie, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Marco van Staden, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Manie Libbok
Image: Handré Pollard to wear the number 10 jersey.
Source: World Rugby