The Springbok team’s division of seven forwards and only one back on its substitutes bench undoubtedly steals the media spotlight in the run-up to the World Cup match against Ireland at the Stade de France.
Andy Farrell, the Irish coach, was asked about the South Africans’ bench strength when he announced his Ireland squad for the showdown on Thursday afternoon. According to the 48-year-old Englishman, he does not have sleepless nights about the Springboks’ strong substitutes.
“I think it’s very good. It is a tactic that fits their game pattern and they obviously know what their strengths are; just like we know what our team is,” Farrell said.
Ireland is the world’s leading rugby team and they have now won 14 games in a row.
“I did ask our forward coaches if we shouldn’t perhaps choose seven backs and one forward as substitutes for the game, but they weren’t to be found,” joked Farrell.
The Irish have five forwards on their substitutes’ bench, while Conor Murray, Jack Crowley and Robbie Henshaw should provide the backline punch in the second half.
According to Farrell, he has enough confidence in his own substitutes to neutralize the Springboks’ fresh forwards.
“We analyzed their game against New Zealand when they decided on the 7/1 split for the first time. South Africa obviously enjoyed scrum-work momentum then, but I know that our players will be able to stand their ground.”
In the end it doesn’t help to just talk about a rugby match; what happens on the playing field is much more important.
“South Africa’s substitutes don’t bother me much. We will simply have to play very good rugby to beat the defending world champions. And that’s all that matters to us.”
The match starts at 21:00 on Saturday and the action will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Springboks: Damian Willemse (full back), Kurt-Lee Arendse (right wing), Jesse Kriel (outside centre), Damian de Allende (inside centre), Cheslin Kolbe (left wing), Manie Libbok (fly-half), Faf de Klerk (scrum-half), Jasper Wiese (eighth ), Pieter-Steph du Toit (flank), Siya Kolisi (captain and flank), Franco Mostert (lock), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Frans Malherbe (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) and Steven Kitshoff (prop). Substitutes: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith and Cobus Reinach.
Ireland: Hugo Keenan (full back), Mack Hansen (right wing), Garry Ringrose (outside centre), Bundee Aki (inside centre), James Lowe (left wing), Johnny Sexton (fly-half), Jamison Gibson-Park (scrum-half), Caelan Doris (eighth man), Josh van der Flier (flank), Peter O’Mahony (flank), James Ryan (lock), Tadhg Beirne (lock), Tadhg Furlong (prop), Ronan Kelleher (hooker) and Andrew Porter (prop). Subs: Dan Sheehan, David Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Ryan Baird, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley and Robbie Henshaw.