June 25, 2024

Selecting four scrumhalves is not being disrespectful towards Romania says Nienaber

TOULON – Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says he is not being disrespectful towards Romania by selecting four scrumhalves in his squad for his team’s second Pool B Rugby World Cup clash on Sunday.

Cobus Reinach will start at scrumhalf, with Jaden Hendrikse providing cover off the replacements’ bench, while Grant Williams shows his versatility by starting on the right wing. Faf de Klerk will provide flyhalf cover from the bench in a split of five forwards and three backs.

“From the start, people were wondering why we were taking four scrum-halves but if you look at the versatility within that, that’s what we saw,” Nienaber said at the team Hotel on Wednesday evening

“Grant (Williams) played his school career on the wing, it was only in his last couple of games he moved to nine. Like you saw in the game against New Zealand, a guy like Cobus (Reinach) can help us out on the wing as well,” he explained.

“Faf (de Klerk), the majority of his school career, he played fly-half. He has also played fly-half for the Lions in Super Rugby and also for Sale Sharks in the Premiership. Yes, there are four nines but a lot of them have played different positions. That’s nice for us, the versatility that we get from them.”

On whether they will play these positions more regularly he said:  “I’m not being disrespectful to Romania but it’s an opportunity to try him (De Klerk) out in a test match under pressure at 10. He’s trained there for us numerous times.

“We’ve said Faf is our third-choice fly-half but this is a nice opportunity to give him a run at 10, controlling the game at 10 at test-match level.”

The coach said the selection process is based on getting a positive result.

“The most important thing in terms of selection is that we’re competitive and that we beat Romania.

“If we in any way think of further games in the competition, it will be disrespectful to the players that we selected to play for South Africa and it will be disrespectful to the opponents.

“It’s not a risk for us. It is well calculated. We are comfortable with what we saw in training. We believe that the guys are good enough in those positions to beat the opposition.”

Nienaber believes all his flyhalves are particularly brave on defense.

“If you look at Damian at 10 or Faf who’s our back-up fly-half, there isn’t a problem from a defensive viewpoint. They’re brave, they put their heads in dark places. You don’t have to hide them on defence.”

Nienaber feels the game against Romania will give him better insight into certain tactical

“Points difference might come into this pool but the first thing is to bank the win.

“But there is definitely some technical and tactical stuff that we get out of this game.

“Getting some first World Cup test matches into some players, getting used to the pressure, which is different to any other competition, that exposure will be great.”

The only player in the starting XV that continues in the run-on team from last week’s 18-3 victory over Scotland in Marseille is utility back Damian Willemse, who switches from fullback to flyhalf.

“Grant played school rugby on the wing, and he has come on at wing before for us, so we are excited to give him this opportunity to start there and for him to gain international experience in the position.

“Faf is also one of our back up flyhalves in the squad, and the same applies to him, as it will be valuable for him and the team to get some game time in the position.

“We have been rotating and testing players in different positions since last season to put us in the fortunate position to have a group of 33 players in France that are closely matched in terms of their quality of play and skills, and who have been pushing one another for places in the last few months. It has allowed us to select a top-quality team for this match.”

The 14 other personnel changes in the starting team, see Canan Moodie (centre) and Jean Kleyn (lock) return after not being available for selection because of injury in game one. Moodie resumes his Twickenham midfield-partnership with the hard-running Andre Esterhuizen, while Kleyn partners Marvin Orie in the engine room.

The experienced Willie le Roux jumps from the bench to the starting lineup at fullback, while Makazole Mapimpi will accompany Williams on the wing.

Nienaber also named a quality forward pack with Ox Nche, Vincent Koch (both props) and Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) joining forces in the front row, and Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith (both flankers) and Duane Vermeulen (No 8) forming a new loose trio.

Deon Fourie will serve as the back-up hooker on the bench, alongside a quality set of forwards in Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane (both props), RG Snyman (lock) and Jasper Wiese (No 8), while Jesse Kriel (centre) is the third back.

Nienaber added: “This squad includes several Rugby World Cup winners and some of the best young talent in the country and we are excited to see what they can do. Player management is vital as every game in the World Cup is essentially a play-off game, and it is important that our squad remains sharp and match fit throughout the competition.”

Nienaber expected their opponents to show real fight at Stade de Bordeaux: “Romania are a patriotic team and they will be playing for their country. It is a massive opportunity for them to play against us because such occasions are very rare, so they will give everything.

“They scored the first try in their opening match against Ireland, they showed real skill in a number of areas of their game, and they fought throughout the match, so we know what we are in for.

“Obviously from our perspective it is important to build momentum in our campaign and this match plays a vital role in our plans for the tournament, so it is important that we follow through with our plan in this match.”

The Springboks will have their last training session in Toulon on Thursday before settling in at their base in Bordeaux for Sunday’s match.

The encounter kicks off at 15h00 on Sunday and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Springbok team to face Romania in Bordeaux:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Grant Williams, 13 Canan Moodie, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smit, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Jesse Kriel

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