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'Slow poison' and the 'bomb squad'

REACTION: The popular catchphrase ‘bomb squad’ was coined by South Africa at the 2019 World Cup, but it is so much more than just an attention-grabbing slogan.


It is the systematic undoing of the opposition.

Following the impact of the replacements in the Springboks’ come-from-behind 23-18 win over Wales at the weekend, the role of the ‘bomb squad’ was again thrust into the spotlight.

The front row replacements of Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch caused havoc in the scrums – each set piece turning into a penalty for South Africa.

Marx scored the match-winning try in the 73rd minute.

Equally impressive was the likes of Franco Mostert and Jasper Wiese – not to mention Francois Steyn (on in the 14th minute for the injured Damian Willemse), Cobus Reinach and Elton Jantjies – the latter sealing the win with an 81st-minute penalty.

Springbok replacements


Captain Siyamthanda Kolisi, who himself was replaced in the 71st minute, said the impact of the bench was “huge”.

“Our bench is always a weapon,” Kolisi said, adding: “We call it the bomb squad for a reason.

“They were special in this match.”

He also praised the members of the non-playing squad for their “effort” on helping them prepare for the big challenge ahead.


“When the bench came on – even Frans came on early [14th minute], the impact he made, Cobus [Reinach] made a huge difference and the forwards that came on were huge.”

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However, coach Jacques Nienaber said the role of the starters should not be diminished through the plaudits to the replacements.

The coach admitted the ‘bomb squad’ is deservedly getting a lot of attention over the impact on games, but said it should not diminish the role of players in the starting XV.

“Sometimes we forget poison the starting guys put into the legs of the guys on the pitch,” Nienaber said about the proverbial ‘slow poison’ scenario of sapping the energy of the opposition.

“Every maul takes energy,” the coach said, adding: “We didn’t use every opportunity when we got entry into their 22-metre area.

“It still requires energy to stop those mauls.

“That is why we say they work in tandem – then bench and the starters.

“I thought the foundation laid by the guys that started opened up opportunities for the guys that came on.

“The guys that come one must utilise the work that the starters did for them and they [bomb squad] must kick of – which happened in this match.”


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