Fourie, Van Staden must find solutions in the lineouts against Tonga, says Bok coach Nienaber

When the Springboks play the winless Tonga in Marseille tomorrow, they hope to correct the mistakes they made against Ireland and earn a bonus-point victory to move atop Pool B at the Rugby World Cup in France.

They will almost certainly advance to the quarterfinals with five points from the game (9 p.m. kickoff), but they will have to work hard to overcome the Tongans’ physical assault.

The defending world champion Springboks are determined to remedy their wrongs after losing to Ireland 13-8 in a close game last weekend where they struggled to score from the kicking tee and couldn’t truly dominate at the breakdown and scrums.

Should the Boks fail to get the five points and suffer a surprise defeat, Scotland would still have a chance to overtake them for second place in the pool since they still have two games left, one of which is against Ireland.

After tomorrow’s match, the South Africans will have a bye and must wait to find out their fate based on how the Irish and Scottish fare.

Coach Jacques Nienaber stated yesterday that there were a few things they needed to fix after their performance against Ireland.

There are undoubtedly some things that we will attempt a little bit differently in this game to see if it works, according to Nienaber, in terms of our game plan.

“The outcome is very significant, but if we get the chance to compete in rugby quarterfinals or knockout rounds, we need to address those issues (the things that went wrong). We probably won’t be in this competition for very long if we don’t fix those issues.

In addition to a win with bonus points, the Boks also need to observe how the backup hookers perform.

Bongi Mbonambi will not be in the center of the scrum as utility forward Deon Fourie will take over in the No. 2 position and fellow loose forward Marco van Staden will serve as the replacement hooker.

Since Fourie and Van Staden have neither played at the Test level, this is likely the largest risk the Springboks are taking in this game. In a match that they must win, everything might go wrong if their lineout throws are poor.

Not only will the hooker position be scrutinized tomorrow, but flyhalf Handré Pollard will also be in the limelight.

His efforts with the boot will be carefully observed because the Boks have had trouble scoring goals.

The 2019 World Cup winner has only played for English club Leicester for around 40 minutes since recovering from his calf injury, so he must first demonstrate that he can handle the physicality of Test rugby.

Nienaber and company have asked for tolerance with the 29-year-old as he gets back into the swing of things because he hasn’t played for the Boks in more than a year.

Additionally, the game gives centers André Esterhuizen and Canan Moodie, as well as wings Makazole Mapimpi, another chance to make their case for inclusion prior to any potential play-offs.

The Springboks should win this game to put pressure on Scotland and Ireland before their matchup next weekend if the forwards play physically and accurately and the backline takes advantage of the opportunities that can arise off the go-forward ball.


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