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The Koch verdict on his Bomb Squad's five/three bench reshuffle

By Rugby365
(Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

Replacement prop Vincent Koch has insisted that the Springboks’ famed ‘Bomb squad’ won’t lose its assertiveness despite a five/three forwards/back bench split. Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has discarded the preferred six/two bench split between forwards and backs for this Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against Australia in Adelaide.


The ‘Bomb Squad’ tactic came under scrutiny in the last few weeks following the 23-35 round two defeat to the All Blacks as the world champions found themselves in a conundrum when wing Jesse Kriel left the field in the opening minutes at Ellis Park. It meant that the backline had to be reshuffled, resulting in a lot of players having to play out of position.

In the wake of the defeat, the coach admitted having two backline players on the bench was a big risk and he has now opted to select three backline players on the bench as his team looks to bounce back versus the Wallabies.

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Nienaber has brought in fly-half Elton Jantjies as an extra backs replacement and also swapped Frans Steyn for Willie le Roux at No23. Scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse is the other backline player on the bench with back-row forward Jasper Wiese not named in the matchday squad to allow the inclusion of the third backs replacement.

A move like this may weaken the impact of the ‘Bomb Squad’, especially regarding the forward battle in the closing stages. However, sub tighthead Koch insisted the reshuffle from a six/two bench split to five/three will not be a big issue.


“I don’t think it will have a massive impact, each one in the bomb squad have a specific role,” said the prop “Whether it is a six/two or five/three bench split, we all know what to do when we get on the field. I don’t think the dynamic will change much. Once we get a chance to get on the pitch we just have to make sure we keep the intensity where the starters left off.”


Koch revealed the Wallabies pack will pose a new challenge for the Springboks, who were under pressure during their last outing against the All Blacks. “Australia has a really good pack. They have a good front row on the bench as well so it is going to be a challenge for us, but our focus is mainly on ourselves and how we can be better. It is going to be a good challenge.”


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RUGBYPASS+ Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam