Why the Springboks opted for ‘straight shooter’ Bongi Mbonambi as captain

Springboks Bongi Mbonambi of South Africa controls the ball at the back of the maul during the 2022 Castle Lager Incoming Series match between South Africa and Wales held at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa on 16 July 2022 Credit: Alamy

Springboks Bongi Mbonambi of South Africa controls the ball at the back of the maul during the 2022 Castle Lager Incoming Series match between South Africa and Wales held at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa on 16 July 2022 Credit: Alamy

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has explained his decision to name hooker Bongi Mbonambi as his captain against Argentina.

With Siya Kolisi and Handre Pollard sidelined while Duane Vermeulen remained in South Africa, Nienaber was always going to name a new captain for the second clash with Los Pumas.

However, many predicted that centre Lukhanyo Am, who is vice-captain for the match in Buenos Aires, would become the 64th player to skipper the Springboks.

“Brilliant leader”

Nienaber has instead opted for Mbonambi, who becomes the second black Springboks captain after Kolisi and skippers the side in his 60th Test match.

Nienaber expressed his pride in handing Mbonambi the armband and hailed the front rower for his no-nonsense approach on and off the pitch.

“I’m extremely proud of Bongi, and he’s been a brilliant leader for us since 2018,” the Springboks coach said.

“I mean, Bongi is one of our pressure point drivers or game drivers; he’s a no-nonsense leader and a guy that leads by example by doing the hard stuff.

“He doesn’t mince his words, he’s a straight shooter, and he’s a guy that demands respect.

“He’s got a nice aura around him, and as I said, he is a no-nonsense guy; I’m extremely proud of him.”

Right man for the job

As already mentioned, centre Am looked to be the frontrunner for the captaincy and while Mbonambi is seen as a left-field choice.

However, Nienaber disagrees with that view and says the selection did not surprise anyone in the squad.

The Springboks coach also explained why the hooker was the ideal candidate, particularly with the intricacies of the set pieces.

“With Bongi being a hooker, he is probably the guy that talks to the referee the majority of the time in terms of scrums and lineouts and set pieces,” Nienaber explained.

“The way he communicates with referees is exceptional, and that’s probably going to be the main thing for us.

“In a captain, you want one guy speaking to the referee, and that should be him and, normally – with other teams as well – if there’s any discussion around set pieces or scrums, it’s normally the hookers that talk to the referee because if your captain, like Siya [Kolisi] doesn’t necessarily understand the ins and outs of the scrum.

“Siya is in the scrum, but he doesn’t understand what’s happening up front where it’s dark in the middle. It’s common for hookers to talk to referees regarding the scrum, or sometimes it will be one of the props, but it differs from team to team, and in our team, it’s the hooker.

“So I think Bongi must do what he normally does when he speaks to the referee, and he will be our voice and communication with the referee, and he does it well.”

Nienaber added: “From a playing perspective, Bongi must do what Bongi does, he’s a no-nonsense guy, and during the week, if he gives you his word that he will sort this out, he will sort it out in the game.

“It might seem from the outside that it’s a left field, but I promise you if you talk to anybody inside the team, it is not a left-field choice.”

The clash against Argentina this weekend is the first of three Rugby World Cup warm-up games for the Springboks.

Nienaber will also announce his final 33-man squad for the World Cup on Tuesday, August 8, before clashes against Wales and New Zealand ahead of the tournament.

READ MORE: Rugby Championship: Five things we learnt from the tournament including the All Blacks are back

The article Why the Springboks opted for ‘straight shooter’ Bongi Mbonambi as captain appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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