Boks head honchos Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus. Photo: SA Rugby website

Springboks head honchos Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus. Photo: SA Rugby website

Mallett slams selections that ‘cost’ Boks

Former coach Nick Mallett believes some poor selections potentially cost the Boks the Rugby Championship title.

Boks head honchos Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus. Photo: SA Rugby website

Springboks head honchos Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus. Photo: SA Rugby website

The Boks managed to pull off a 38-21 victory at a packed Kings Park in Durban in the final round of the Rugby Championship, but it was ultimately a bitter-sweet result as the Springboks still ultimately finished second in the Rugby Championship.

Doing the double over the Pumas, while picking up wins against both New Zealand and Australia represented progress according to coach Jacques Nienaber, although he also admitted there were key improvements still required.

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Writing in his column for Sport24, former Bok coach Nick Mallett suggested the selections for the second Test against the All Blacks ultimately undermined the team’s campaign in the Rugby Championship.

“The Springboks fell just short on the log, but in truth, it was selection that cost them this tournament. In the second Test at Ellis Park, it was inconceivable that the Boks wouldn’t carry on with a guy like Malcolm Marx, who was demonstratively so good in that first Test in Mbombela that people were talking about him being the best player in the world. 

“To leave an asset like that out for a guy who has just returned from a season of sitting on the bench in French rugby in Joseph Dweba was unthinkable. The time for learning for a guy like Dweba is through the URC, not playing against the All Blacks when you’re trying to win the competition. It was a poor selection that undermined the Boks’ efforts and hurt their cause.

“Getting Duane Vermeulen back into the mix for that game, having not played in eight weeks, was also a selection error. It’s easy to be wise afterwards, but they were two calls that were surprising as soon as they were made. Why would you make those changes after the team had performed so well the week before? I think that’s where the competition was lost.”

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The Boks are next in action against Ireland, the No 1 ranked team in the world, in Dublin in November when Nienaber said they would have an even better idea of the team’s progress.

“We’re not where we want to be yet. We need consistency, and we’ll probably get a pretty good idea on our end-of-year tour. We play No 1 and No 2 [France] teams in the world and we have an SA A side, and it will be a challenging tour. But it will give us nice answers as to where we are.”

Boks captain Siya Kolisi said “we had some great, great moments in the Rugby Championship, and we also had some weak moments”.

“We know we can win against anyone in the world on our day, but today was a big step forward because it was a third win in a row and we want to take that momentum with us into the end-of-year tour,” added the Bok captain.

The Boks finished one point behind New Zealand on the final standings

Nienaber noted that he had used 34 players in the tournament and that some questions had been answered over position depth.

“We built some squad depth. Some players got some experience but that wasn’t the main aim – which was to win the Rugby Championship and we fell short on that. But there were some positives to take out of it,” he said.

“We are in a better position now in terms of learning about certain positions than we were when we started. There was always this big issue around flyhalf and whether Damian (Willemse) could play there and hats off to Frans (Steyn) today, in a very short space of time he had to slot in and he will just get better in terms of that.

“We’ve also had Kurt-Lee (Arendse) and Canan (Moodie) come through and now Cheslin (Kolbe) has to perform if he wants to get back in – but we know he is quality, and we look forward to welcoming him back.”

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jasper wiese springboks

The Boks currently find themselves in third place in the latest World Rugby rankings following the conclusion of the 2022 Rugby Championship.

Tournament winners, the All Blacks, are in fourth.

Ireland continue to lead the way ahead of France, while Australia have plummeted to a lowly ninth place, below Argentina who finished bottom of the Rugby Championship log.

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TOP 10 IN THE LATEST WORLD RUGBY RANKINGS:

1. Ireland – 90.03

2. France – 89.41

3. South Africa – 89.00

4. New Zealand – 87.30

5. England – 86.25

6. Scotland – 81.93

7. Wales – 81.28

8. Argentina – 81.21

9. Australia – 80.65

10. Japan – 77.74