In preparation for their upcoming match against South Africa, Romania has unveiled their lineup. The Springboks, on the other hand, have implemented a substantial overhaul, making 14 changes to their team. The only player who remains in the starting lineup is Damian Willemse, although he will be playing a different position, transitioning from fullback to fly-half. This strategic shift exemplifies the core principle on which Jacques Nienaber has built his squad: versatility.
A notable and somewhat surprising feature of the Springboks’ lineup is the presence of four scrum-halves. Grant Williams is positioned on the wing, Cobus Reinach assumes the scrum-half role, Jaden Hendrikse is placed on the bench, and Faf de Klerk, typically a No. 9, takes on the role of covering the fly-half position.
Jacques Nienaber clarified the decision to test De Klerk in the fly-half position, emphasizing that it is not intended as a sign of disrespect towards Romania. Instead, it is seen as an opportunity to evaluate De Klerk’s performance in a high-pressure test match at the challenging position of 10, given his prior training and experience in that role.
Despite facing the setback of Malcolm Marx’s injury, the Springboks have refrained from calling up a replacement. Instead, they have enlisted Deon Fourie, typically a back-row player, to provide cover from the bench. The team’s focus remains firmly on the task at hand, with minimal contemplation of future matches in the competition.
Nienaber stressed the importance of this mindset, explaining that thinking ahead to future games would not only be disrespectful to the players currently selected to represent South Africa but also to their opponents. The decision to experiment with positions is viewed as a well-calculated move, rooted in the team’s confidence in the training and abilities of the selected players. They hold the belief that these individuals are more than capable of securing victory against their opposition.