VIDEO: 'Kwagga will bring the same as Duane'
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is confident Albertus Smith will rise to the challenge in the first Test against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.
There has been a lot of talk on who will fill that No.8 role – left vacant as a result of the injury suffered by Duane Vermeulen.
Smith started in the No.8 jersey in the Boks’ Test against Georgia, before Jasper Wiese got an opportunity in the South Africa ‘A’ side against the British and Irish Lions.
For the SA ‘A’ versus Bulls match, Smith was given the starting role with Wiese coming off the bench.
For the series opener in Cape Town on Saturday, Smith got the nod for the No.8 role – with Rynhardt Elstadt included on the bench to provide back row cover.
“Duane [Vermeulen] is a guy that can get momentum and stop momentum in a specific way. Obviously, he is a big and heavy guy,” Nienaber said.
“A guy like Kwagga does exactly the same for us, just maybe a little bit different.
“Kwagga comes from a Sevens background and he probably gets momentum with his evasive skillset.
“He has developed that skill set over the years and he probably gives us the same, just in a different style and in a different way.
“If you think about Duane defensively, he is a good reader of the game and has good poaching ability. He also has the ability to slow down the ball and Kwagga possesses the same skills.
“It is a different look [in the back row] to what we normally have, but we are comfortable with Kwagga.
“He fulfilled that role for us in the World Cup as well.
“People forget that in 2019 when we played New Zealand in New Zealand, Kwagga was also in that team and he partnered with Duane when Siya [Kolisi] was injured.
“The nice thing about Kwagga is he can cover six, seven and eight.”
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Nienaber said he was also happy to have Kolisi fit for Saturday’s match, after the captain only joined the squad in Cape Town on Monday due to COVID-19 isolation.
“He [Kolisi] is a player that has been with us for quite some time and he knows our structures.
“He knows what we trying to do from an on-field rugby perspective and he has been our captain. He brings some calmness to the squad, so I am very happy to have him back,” said the Bok coach.