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The Mostert verdict on recent criticism of Springboks' bomb squad

By Rugby365
(Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

Springboks utility forward Franco Mostert has defended the ‘bomb squad’ amid recent public scrutiny. Questions surrounding the effectiveness of South Africa’s bench have surfaced following The Rugby Championship season.


The bomb squad was used to great effect during the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup triumph by Rassie Erasmus, the former Springboks coach and now SA director of rugby. The six-two split (six forwards and two backs on the bench) become entrenched in the nation’s history and was integral in their 32-12 win over England in the final.

Against Australia during this year’s Rugby Championship opener, the tactic again excelled, handing the Springboks a 43-12 victory in Pretoria. However, it was diffused by the All Blacks in a 20-35 defeat in Auckland.

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New Zealand rushed to a 20-3 lead at the break and despite the world champions being a more determined unit in the second half with some big names coming off the bench, the All Blacks still managed to finish strongly to secure the win.

The defeat saw the Boks management under head coach Jacques Nienaber forgo the six-two split against Argentina last weekend, which almost proved to be costly as the pack struggled in the closing stages. They conceded two late tries but managed to hold on for a narrow 22-21 win in Johannesburg.


This Saturday in Buenos Aires, they will again take to the field with a five-three split and while concerns continue to pile up, Mostert, an original member of the 2019 World Cup bomb squad, said there was very little worry inside the camp. “The Springboks management – Rassie Erasmus, Jacques Nienaber and Felix Jones – all have good plans,” Mostert said.

“They are trying to work out combinations ahead of the World Cup, which is a good thing. They are looking at strong points and hopefully, it will work. There is no stress around the bomb squad. Rassie and the team have a plan and we back them 100 per cent.”


Heading into the World Cup warm-up match against a fired-up Argentinian side, Mostert urged his team to be more clinical at the lineout. “At the moment we are not happy with it. We can be more clean and positive with our own ball.

“We are working on it and working to get it right closer towards the World Cup. With contesting we are very happy. We have leaders like Eben Etzebeth and Jean Kleyn who make it very difficult for the opponents.”

He added: “In Buenos Aires, it’s always a very physical outing. With the game they [Argentina] played in Johannesburg they were so close, so this weekend they will be eager to play. Hopefully, we can give a big performance and match them.”

The match against Los Pumas will be the Springboks’ final game before Nienaber names the 33-man squad on Tuesday that will travel to France to defend the World Cup title.

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William 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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