Springbok coach Jake White may opt for five forwards on the bench when he names his team to face Ireland.
The starting line-up, although not finalised officially, seems to be settled for the first Test of the tour. The combinations that have trained in Johannesburg and Dublin are likely to run out against the Irish this Saturday.
However, White is still undecided as to whether he will pick five forwards amongst the reserves. This would lend more depth to the area which promises to be the most taxing, as shown in the internationals over the weekend. The Wales versus Australia match saw almost all forwards involved in the breakdown contest emerging battered and bleeding, and Landsdowne Road should be no less intense.
“I think I will consider choosing five forwards among the substitutes when I have all our props at my disposal – Os du Randt and GurthrÃ¶ Steenkamp – with the ones chosen for this tour. It is certainly an option for the future,” White told Die Volksblad.
The tactic of selecting a 5-2 spilt on the reserves bench has been employed by the likes of Western Province and Blue Bulls management during this year’s Absa Currie Cup. In theory, the extra forward is seen as an advantage when facing a team with a particularly strong pack. In the second half when both packs begin to tire, the extra pair of fresh legs in the tight can make all the difference.
White currently has Lawrence Sephaka, Deon Carstens, CJ van der Linde and BJ Botha to choose from. The last two names on that list are likely to play on Saturday, but it all depends on Van der Linde’s fitness as to who will start the game.
If the coach persists with the conventional 4-3 split, the other inclusions in the squad should be Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker), Johann Muller (lock), Jacques Cronje (loose forward), Ruan Pienaar (scrumhalf), Butch James (flyhalf/centre) and Akona Ndungane (wing/fullback).
The full match 22 will be announced on Wednesday.