Springbok coaches debated intensely over surprise team picks for clash with France

Paris — Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick claimed on the eve of the match against France that the Springboks coaches disputed team selection for a very long time throughout the week, changing their line-up at least three times before deciding on the lineup for Sunday’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinal.

In a surprise move, the defending champions substituted the experienced Duane Vermeulen at the base of the scrum for the explosive Jasper Weise in the semifinal matchup against the hosts. The halfback pairing was Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach.

In the boardroom, there was a lot of tension and heated discussion, and, I won’t lie to you, we must have switched sides three times, according to Stick.

“As coaches, we are always open and honest with one another, we debate players all the time, and we always act in the team’s best interest.”

Despite having the second-worst goal-kicking record in the tournament with an average of 54.5%, Libbok was chosen for the crucial flyhalf position.

Stick, however, was sure that the player gave the Springboks a more varied alternative.

“Libbok has significantly altered how people perceive how we play the game. The monotonous rugby that people used to criticize us for has changed.

However, SA can no longer rely on Handré Pollard’s accuracy, who was previously always dependable, to convert the penalties that their forward power frequently results in, at least initially.

Stick said, “But if the game tightens up, players like Willie le Roux and Pollard can come on and close it for us.

It is ironic that the Boks will be attempting to imitate some of the flare that France have been known for, while the host team hopes to physically grind their way to win on the basis of a strong defense and big pack. Free-spirited scrumhalf Reinach will bring pace to SA’s play.

“I think it’s going to take the whole 23 players for us to go through and it’s going to be a tough,” Stick continued.

Although it is a significant occasion for us, we relish challenges.

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