Boks to reconsider backfiring bomb squad 6-2 split? 'We always know it's a risk'

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  • Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber hinted they could reconsider their 6-2 bench split following a spate of early backline injuries.
  • The Boks lost Jesse Kriel to concussion after a collision with Caleb Clarke in the eighth minute of Saturday's defeat to the All Blacks.
  • Nienaber, though, defended the move, saying it brought Rugby World Cup and British & Irish Lions success.

Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber hinted ever so slightly that they could reconsider deploying their infamous 6-2 bench split that's backfired a few times this season following early backline injuries.

The tactic, which comprises six forwards and two backs on the bench, was tested again when the Boks lost Jesse Kriel to concussion after a collision with Caleb Clarke in the eighth minute of Saturday's defeat to the All Blacks at Ellis Park.

Although Lukhanyo Am produced a virtuoso performance in green and gold at right wing, he was a stop-gap filler that happened to play well, but the balance of the backline was off kilter.

READ | All Blacks stun Springboks at packed Ellis Park despite Am-azing Lukhanyo performance

A week earlier in Mbombela, although South Africa won the game, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk also suffered a similar injury to Kriel involving the same All Blacks behemoth.

Before then, Cheslin Kolbe also exited the third Test decider against Wales, leaving another musical chair dance between Willie le Roux, the only outside back substitute, Am, Damian de Allende and Damian Willemse.

Scrumhalf Grant Williams was also forced to cover at wing after the Boks removed Aphelele Fassi from the game against Wales in Bloemfontein.

Nienaber said the tactic, which drew criticism from former England coach Clive Woodward after the World Cup, brought his team success in the recent past.

"I was thinking about that today and I guess it works for you sometimes but against you at other times," said Nienaber.

"We've been coaching now for 45 games and we probably went with a 6-2 split [majority of the time].

"That tactic won us a World Cup and a British & Irish Lions series, so it has brought us some positive results.

"In saying that, we always know it's a risk if we get a backline injury early on and it's just unfortunate."

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