By now I am sure most have seen what went down at Ellis Park last Saturday, but for those who haven't, I wrote an article on it earlier in the week you can check out. Joseph Dweba was let down in spectacular fashion by the Springbok coaching team as he was thrust into the starting line up when Bongi was withdrawn and then ripped from the field in the 29th minute as the occasion got the better of him.
Dweba has been in the Bok set up since 2021 ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour but he has not been given much game time, understandable if you consider who is ahead of him in the pecking order. Having not played any rugby since May in the Top 14 for Bordeaux it was hardly a surprise that he was undercooked when he took to the field. Whilst Jacques Nienaber has said there is always a 'rugby reason' for these things, he has failed to add any substance to these assertions and it just leaves everyone with more questions than answers.
It has now come to light that the precautionary withdrawal of Bongi from the game last weekend is more serious than original thought. The player is carrying a knee injury and has subsequently not been included in the squad for the Australian leg of the Rugby Championship. As a result the decision has been taken to tour with only two hookers, Malcolm Marx and Joseph Dweba. Deon Fourie will offer utility cover at both flank and hooker, but it has certainly been a while since he last partook in the dark arts of the front row.
Now the problem here is, Dweba wasn't trusted by the Bok management to even hit the 30 minute mark last weekend, and for some reason they also seem to prefer keeping Marx confined to an impact roll off the bench. A real head scratcher awaits Nienaber and co then, and it is one of their own making. Will they thrust Dweba into the starting line up again and wait for Marx to insert himself later in the game? Or will they start with Marx and bring Dweba in off the bench?
Whilst on paper Deon Fourie is there as a 3rd 'utility' hooker, I would consider it a far field selection to have him in the 23 as cover at hooker and barring further injuries we really only have Malcolm and Joseph now. It has become so hard to predict what the management will do in these selection situations that many fans and Punt-it's alike are left frustrated on a regular basis. There is no doubting that the Ellis Park test will have made a huge dent in the confidence of Dweba and the coached will have to do some proper man management over the next 10 days or so to make sure he is ready for a second shot.
I believe the best option for the Bokke is to start Malcolm and allow him to suffocate the opposition and soften them up, allowing Dweba to come on with less pressure and to actually have a moment to find his feet on the test stage. Dweba is a massive player and with a little confidence and coaching can have a long career in the Green & Gold, something that can only be bolstered by him having signed with the Stormers for the upcoming season.
With all this in mind, I can't help but wonder why the Springboks selectors keep pushing for every scrumhalf with the hint of a South African accent to be included in the squad, but we refuse to grow depth at hooker with the inclusion of someone like Johan Grobbelaar when the opportunity arises, and the apparent lack of insight to our depth issues at flyhalf.