The story about the Bomb Squad Nienaber didn’t want anyone knowing
The South African front row, and how the the starters and bench are used by Jacques Nienaber, has been one of the talking points of 2021.
On more than one occasion this year, the starting Springboks’ front row has been replaced before half time after emptying the tank, in order to be replaced by the ‘Bomb Squad’. Usually this saw Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane replaced by Stephen Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Vincent Kock/ Frans Malherbe to exert even more pressure in the second half.
While the ‘Bomb Squad’ has been seen by many as the bigger, better South African front row, Nick Mallett shared a story recently that may mean the much vaunted trio are seen in a different light. It relates to live scrummaging sessions the two front rows had before the Lions tour where the starting trio came out on top.
“I’ve got it from first hand that they had a scrummaging session in Bloemfontein before COVID thing set when they were preparing for the Lions series and full live scrums which Jaco Peyper was refereeing,” Mallett said.
“And he said it was quite extraordinary, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nche gave Malherbe, Kitshoff and Marx a very, very unpleasant time. Time and again at scrummaging practice they dominating. And there is a difference of ten centimetres in height, both Ox and Trevor are really strong and get underneath you, and the guys were very uncomfortable.”
Regardless of who beat who in their training scrums, the truth is that Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus seemed to get the formula perfect this year and worked out how to balance having probably the two best front rows in the game at their disposal. Unless opposing teams manage to unearth world class props and hookers in the next few months, there’s not much they can do to stop this.