Boks must go for broke, or face uncertainty

Wounded Springboks, fresh from a narrow 13-8 defeat at the hands of world number one side Ireland, are out to send a strong reminder why they remain one of the favourites to clinch the World Cup.

Jacques Nienaber’s charges face Tonga in their final Pool B encounter tonight (9pm) knowing they can’t afford to underestimate the Pacific Island side who are capable of causing a big upset.

Although the defeat to Ireland was a setback, it seems to have done little to dent the defending champions’ confidence heading into the business end of the competition.

Nienaber, though, has learnt plenty about his side in the Pool stages and he will once again take the opportunity to find out more against Tonga, as crucial as that match might be.

What Nienaber said: Nienaber is expecting another physical battle against Tonga, which has been indicated by his team selection as he looks to match his opponents.

“They will enter with the mindset that they have nothing to lose after going down in their opening two matches of the tournament, so they won’t hold back,” said Nienaber.

“They had impressive moments in their matches against Scotland and Ireland, so this will require a full 80-minute effort.”

Team selection: Nienaber has made wholesale changes to the team that lost to Ireland last week as he continues to play around with different combinations before the knock-out stages.

Only captain Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Jasper Wiese survive in the starting XV, as Nienaber continues to show off his side’s versatility.

Flanker Deon Fourie, who can also play as a hooker, starts in the No2 jersey, with Marco van Staden deputising on the bench, while Bongi Mbonambi is rested.

Ox Nche and Vincent Koch will take over as the props, with Etzebeth and Marvin Orie the preferred locks for Nienaber against Tonga.

The experienced Duanne Vermeulen will start in an unfamiliar role at the side of the scrum, as Jasper Wiese retains the No8 berth.

Andre Esterhuizen and Canan Moodie are reunited as a hard-running centre combination, while Makazole Mapimpi and Grant Williams will line up on the wings as they did against Romania.

Pollard’s return: The trusted fly-half who was one of the key players for the Boks back in 2019 when they won the global showpiece in Japan, will make his return to the team after a lengthy absence.

Initially left out of the 33-man Rugby World Cup squad because of a calf problem, which has kept him on the sidelines for most of the year, Pollard will finally get a taste of the action. Pollard was drafted into the Springboks’ World Cup squad last week as a replacement for hooker Malcolm Marx who was ruled out because of injury.

Pollard didn’t feature against Ireland but he will now get some minutes against Tonga as Nienaber looks for options at fly-half following Manie Libbok’s struggles at the tee.

Libbok, whose all-round game was nonetheless impressive, has moved to the bench, with Pollard taking over the kicking duties.

The Boks did everything to win against Ireland, however, their kicking let them down as they missed four shots at goal amounting to 11 points – something that was crucial in a five-point loss.

Pollard, who is accomplished at this level, is expected to improve this aspect of the Boks’ game with Nienaber able to turn to Libbok at any point to produce his strengths.

For Pollard, it’ll be his first Springbok appearance since playing against Australia in Adelaide before injury forced him out of the subsequent 16 Test matches.

Follow @SundayWorldZA on Twitter and @sundayworldza on Instagram, or like our Facebook Page, Sunday World, by clicking here for the latest breaking news in South Africa.

Latest News