South Africa winger Cheslin Kolbe believes that the decision to go with the 7/1 split for the clash against Ireland is a move that does hold risk but that is also something that can pay off on Saturday in Paris.
This week, South African coach Jacques Nienaber named his 23 to face Andy Farrell's side. They have also named 7 forwards and 1 back on the bench, a decision that has been met with mixed reviews.
All week, questions have been put to players and coaches about the strategy of employing the 'bomb squad' from the bench. South Africa's last use of the tactic came in the 35-7 victory over New Zealand in a warm-up game last month.
The risk for the world champions is if they get an injury to a number of their backline, the cover isn't there, but according to Kolbe, the Boks have the cover to deal with the 'risky' issue if it plays out.
"There is risk added, but we are quite fortunate to have players that can play in various positions and do as well as the player that's been selected to start there," Kolbe said this week.
'I don't think Ireland is the same as New Zealand... we're not doing the 7:1 split because it worked against New Zealand' - South African coach Jacques Nienaber on the composition of their bench for the Ireland game pic.twitter.com/TuN5VBVcBB
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) September 20, 2023
"We respect the decision of the coaches and as players just go out, whoever gets selected, to prepare as well as we can throughout the week.
"I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of talk about it, but that’s something we as players can’t control. We will make sure we don’t get distracted by what’s said."
South Africa has also decided to start fly-half Manie Libbok. The new Western Province player had an off-day from the tee against Scotland but produced a moment of magic for Kolbe's try in the 18-3 win over Scotland in the opening game.
When asked about his kicking woes, the 26-year-old added that he was working on his basic skills with and without the ball.
"My whole game is going to be important, every part of it," he said. "If it is kicking for poles, if it is kicking out of hand, if it is my attacking with the ball in hand. Every bit of it is going to be important.
"I’m just working hard on my basic skills. Kicking for poles... I’ve put a lot of work on it to get it right."
- Date: Saturday, September 23, 2023
- Venue: Stade de France, Paris
- Kick-off: 8:00 pm (9:00 pm local)
- Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
- TV Coverage: Live on ITV (UK) and RTÉ (ROI)