Cape Town - Former Springbok Sevens player and Ireland international Dion O’Cuinneagain believes two South African players are vital to the Springboks’ cause against Ireland on Saturday.
O’Cuinneagain, who played as a loose forward for Western Province before heading abroad where he represented Ireland at Test level, spoke exclusively to Sport24 ahead of the Test in Dublin.
O’Cuinneagain feels captain Eben Etzebeth and hooker Malcolm Marx must be on top of their games if the Boks are to have any chance.
“I have no doubt that this Irish side will be fully motivated for Saturday because playing against the Springboks is always a very special occasion and it can prove career-defining,” O’Cuinneagain said.
“It’s clear that Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby is preparing for a physical confrontation up front. Players like Eben Etzebeth and Malcolm Marx are going to have to bring their A-games like they did against the All Blacks in Cape Town. If the Boks fail to approach Saturday’s Test with the same level of intensity then they aren’t going to be able to compete with their hosts. The visitors need to start the game off well and not allow Ireland to build scoreboard pressure.”
While admitting that the Boks aren’t the team they once were, O’Cuinneagain noted that they remained a dangerous outfit.
“I believe the current Springbok side are aware that they are going through a rebuilding phase. They will go into the game against Ireland on Saturday slightly nervous and, in my view, any Bok side with nervous energy is a dangerous beast and can perform exceptionally well on the day,” O’Cuinneagain, who nowadays works as a medical doctor in Cape Town, continued.
“Many South Africans had written the Springboks off after their 57-0 annihilation in Albany, but I remember saying to my work colleagues prior to the Newlands Test that I thought South Africa would come close to beating the world champions. This week, I saw ex-Irish centre Gordon D’arcy wrote in his column that the Springboks are a ‘troubled team’. I don’t agree with those sentiments and I reckon that Gordon is just trying to wind up the situation”.
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Cian Healy
Substitutes: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 James Ryan, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Darren Sweetnam
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi , 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Francois Venter