Frans Malherbe (Gallo)
Birmingham – Springbok impact man Frans
Malherbe must be champing at the bit for a spell of constructive energy against
Samoa here on Saturday.
One of the most clockwork-like
substitutions in modern rugby Tests is that of the first-choice tighthead prop
at about the three-quarter mark of any given contest, so at least he shouldn’t
be under-prepared for infusion.
Almost regardless of whether he is
prospering or floundering, the bull-necked unit in the No 3 jersey inevitably
gets hauled off after roughly an hour’s service.
Somehow coaches seem to share a view, and
some would call it a stubborn one, that fresh legs – and shoulders – are
required on the tighthead side of the scrum at that point.
It is no different with the Springboks:
long-time incumbent Jannie du Plessis is more than used to withdrawing from the
fray on 60 minutes or thereabouts and that may well occur yet again in the key World
Cup Pool B match against the Samoans at Villa Park here (17:45 kickoff SA
The 32-year-old veteran of three World Cups
by now is almost certainly playing his last RWC – even if 36-year-old props in
international rugby are not quite an extinct species – so every opportunity a
deputy in the berth gets is also a foot in the door as heir apparent for the
Last weekend, in the nightmarish defeat to
Japan in Brighton, Coenie Oosthuizen was preferred as understudy on the
tighthead side, and conspicuously failed to cover himself in glory off the
“splinters” as his late yellow-carding put the Boks heavily under the cosh ...
they were sensationally undone by a last-gasp try in the corner.
There were two big front-row casualties in
the aftermath of the Brighton disaster: first-choice hooker Bismarck du Plessis
has had a spectacular, much-publicised demotion right out of the match-day
squad after leaking a string of penalties, whilst the burly Oosthuizen is also
confined to complete inactivity in the stands here after his ill-timed
Into the latter’s reserve tighthead spot for
a sudden must-win match for the Boks has come Malherbe, a move which will
please many scrummaging purists as he is more of a “born” tighthead than
Oosthuizen, who is primarily still regarded as a loosehead by trade, with
Until fairly recently, the 24-year-old from
the Stormers/WP was widely tipped as next in line to Du Plessis for the
tighthead berth, and if he makes his anticipated appearance against the Pacific
Islanders for what will be his seventh Bok cap, a combination of assured
scrummaging and liveliness outside of the set-piece should see him more
regularly leapfrog Oosthuizen for a spot among the subs for the remainder of
the pool phase, at very least.
The closing stages of matches have been an
unfathomable Achilles heel for the Boks this year -- a situation that only
raises the stakes for someone like Malherbe to enter the fray and produce some
welcome, controlled industry to help get the Boks over the line against
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob is attending the pool phase of RWC
2015 to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.