The Springboks going with a 6-2 split is nothing new, in fact its the most commonly deployed bench by Jacques Nienaber these days. Having 6 forwards coming on, some as early as the 38th minute on occasion means the Bok pack is essentially wholly renewed for the second half. I mean imagine dealing with 40 minutes of Bongi only to have to deal with a further 40 from Marx?
The 6-2 split however does vary in itself too. During the July Incoming Series against Wales, the Boks made use of one lock and two loose forwards on the bench. Kwagga Smith and Elrigh Louw did duty against the Welsh and this was clearly a horses for courses selection in an attempt to quell the mobility possessed by players such as Taulupe Faletau and Josh Navidi. For the All Blacks however, Jacques Nienaber has opted for Franco Mostert and Salmaan Moerat at the expense of Louw. Clearly an indication that they intend to focus their attention on the New Zealand frailties in the set piece, as exposed by the Irish.
What transpired in New Zealand in July has lead to a change of coaches with John Plumtree and Brad Mooar let go and Jason Ryan from the Crusaders called up to sort out the issues their pack has been experiencing. In a move widely seen as side stepping the real issues faced by the side, the pressure will be on Ryan to turn things around and quickly.
“Right now, I am really feeling for two fine men who are great rugby coaches that made an enormous contribution to the All Blacks,” Foster said. “I have no doubt both coaches will go on to great success and I want to thank them for their hard work.”
We will know in around two weeks time whether the newly appointed Ryan was able to right the ship or not, one thing is for certain though, South Africa is a tough place to do this. Whilst the Boks may not be known for their attacking ability out wide, anyone will quickly tell you of their physicality and prowess up front. The Boks boast a starting 8 that are physical menaces' and will be bringing a further 6 bruisers off the bench in Mbombela. How quickly the All Blacks pack can adapt to Ryan's coaching will be crucial in their efforts to subdue the Bokke.
The clear indication with the way the Springbok bench has been constructed is that they view the kiwi lineout as an exploitable weakness. We already know the Boks love the driving maul and any territorial or possessional gains they can establish here, will serve them well as they try to keep the All Blacks pinned back in their half. I feel like I say this far too often, but if the Boks can get on top in the forwards, they should come out on top in this one. All that remains is to see whether or not Ryan has instilled belief back into the All Blacks pack.