Former Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok hookers John Smit and Schalk Brits believe that Ox Nche should not start the final against the All Blacks.
Nche produced standout performances in the quarter-final and semi-final, particularly with his work in the scrums.
Ox Nche on the bench
The Bok loosehead has been largely praised for his shift against England in the latter stages of the match, but despite his heroics both Smit and Brits would not move the prop into the starting line-up ahead of Steven Kitshoff.
“I know everyone will want to see Ox in there [the starting team], but we also have to think it’s what a part of the plan,” 2007 World Cup winning captain Smit said on World Rugby’s Boks Office podcast.
“Ox’s first couple of scrums are against a guy who’s done 50 minutes, then he’s got the sort of the second choice tighthead that comes on.”
Fellow former Springbok hooker, Brits, added: “I would definitely not start Ox; the impact he brings on from a running, scrumming and mauling perspective is great.”
However, Brits did have a change in mind from the team that defeated England in the last four, with Handre Pollard replacing Manie Libbok in the starting XV.
Libbok started the clash against England but was replaced in the final 10 minutes of the first half with Pollard coming onto the pitch and slotting two penalties and a conversion to help the Boks to seal the 16-15 victory.
Brits believe that the defending champions will not want to chase the scoreboard against South Africa, and Pollard starting would help make sure that is the case.
“This might be controversial, but I’d start with Handre to create scoreboard pressure,” he explained. “And then I’ll bring Manie, who is amazing, on as he can either close a game or he can open it up.
5-3, 6-2 or 7-1 split?
Smit added that starting Pollard would allow for the Boks to revert to a 6-2 split in favour of the forwards on the bench after opting for the more conventional 5-3 in the quarter and semi-final.
“It also allows us to go 6-2 split if you got Manie on the bench, but then if you do go 6-2 split then Willie [Le Roux] is sacrificed but I do think we need to go 6-2,” Smit said.
Before the Rugby World Cup, South Africa and New Zealand clashed at Twickenham, with the Springboks claiming a convincing 35-7 victory over their rivals.
A late change to the team that day meant the Springboks opted for a 7-1 split on the bench in favour of the forwards, a tactic they used again in the pool stage match against Ireland.
Fellow former Bok hooker Hanyani Shimange asked Brits and Smit of the chances Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus would use the same tactic with Brits, saying that it would be “brave”.
Smit joked that “it’s time for 8-0, let’s get rid of these backs.”
But added: “I think it’s time for 6-2, especially with the weather it’s going to be it’s going to be messy.”