Last week, the Springboks suffered a major blow when Malcolm Marx was ruled out of the World Cup due to injury, with many initially expecting Joseph Dweba to be called up form the ‘standby’ player list to ensure one specialist hooker was replaced by another.
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However, the national coaches opted instead to recall flyhalf Handre Pollard, interestingly stating that they were comfortable with Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden providing hooker back-up to Bongi Mbonambi.
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What was said to Dweba?
Although not calling up a specialist hooker may be seen as a something of a gamble, SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has explained how they came to this decision.
“We always knew that Marco was training there all the time,” Erasmus said “We spoke to Joseph, and he understood 100% that if it was Bongi (Mbonambi) who was out, there’s a case of a like-for-like replacement.
“He’s a strong ball carrier and devastating scrummager, while tackling hard, while Malcolm brings us a bit of everything. If we were not comfortable and confident that Deon and Marco couldn’t do the job, we’d be very foolish not to get Joseph in.
“We know our intensity in training sessions and how they scrum against Bongi and Malcolm, so we’re confident that they can do the job. Marco will be tested, but there are also 120 rucks in a game where Deon and Marco bring something different. We’re fairly confident that they can do the job.”
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Boks feel they’re capably covered
Although Van Staden has predominantly played at flank, the Springboks had planned for every eventuality.
“We are confident with the cover we have at hooker with Bongi Mbonambi and Deon Fourie, and Marco van Staden has been slotting in the position since our alignment camps in February,” said coach Jacques Nienaber in a statement released not long after their 76-0 win over Romania in Bordeaux.
“So we opted to call up Handre, who has been in our system for years and who was a member of our team in 2019 when we won the World Cup.”
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