VIDEO: Nienaber explains his 'calculated risk'
The seven-one bench split was the talk of the town after Tuesday’s team announcement, but the absence of two stalwarts as a result of the risky move almost went unnoticed.
South African coach Jacques Nienaber made 13 personnel changes and a positional switch for Saturday’s crunch World Cup encounter with the world’s top-ranked team Ireland.
The absence of the seasoned World Cup winners Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux will be under the spotlight in days to come.
* To read the actual team announcement, CLICK HERE!
Nienaber said loading his bench with seven forwards is ‘the best way’ to get a win in the Pool B crunch match in Paris.
Nienaber, asked if this would be an indication that they will repeat the ‘brute force’ tactics used against New Zealand at Twickenham last month, the Bok coach said they always attempt to deliver a “physical and intense” game.
“We will definitely attempt to be as purposeful as possible,” he told @rugby365com.
He said the seven-one split ‘worked well’ at Twickenham – a record 35-7 win for the Boks.
(WATCH as South African coach Jacques Nienaber explains his decision to employ a loaded bench with seven forwards against Ireland…)
“Not only in that game,” Nienaber said, adding: “Our bench at the weekend [the 76-0 whitewash of Romania] had a big impact.
“The bench that came on against Scotland [18-3 win] had a big impact.
“That is what we want [from the replacements] and that is why we say that our starters are not necessarily our first-choice.
“The guys who start have a specific role to fulfil and so do the guys off the bench.”
Nienaber admitted the seven-one split is a risk, but he said for them it was a “calculated risk”.
“We understand the risk involved.
“On that seven-one bench there are guys who cover various positions,” he said, adding that he does not want to elaborate for fear of revealing too much of the team’s tactics.
“We have a lot of versatility within the squad – as we showed this past weekend by playing four No.9s.
“With the risk that we take, we are comfortable that we are covered.”
The coach added that the select players all ‘deserved’ their places.
“We believe that is the team that will front up to all the challenges of Ireland will present to us on Saturday.
“Not many people would have raised an eyebrow if we went with Willie [le Roux] instead of Gazza [Damian Willemse].
“We know it will take a group effort from the 33 players here.
“The environment within the squad is such that everybody is happy for the guys that got selected.
“That is the beauty of where our squad is currently.
“If we are successful, everybody will drink out of the Webb Ellis Cup.”
Nienaber added that injured prop Vincent Koch – who withdrew from the starting XV to play Romania in Bordeaux this past weekend – has made sufficient recovery to start training on Wednesday.
He is set to start in the Round Four encounter with Tonga in Marseille on October 1.