Jacques Nienaber explains why Bongi Mbonambi was named Springbok captain

Jacques Nienaber explains why Bongi Mbonambi was named Springbok captain

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says he is "extremely proud" of Bongi Mbonambi and the role he plays in the Springbok team.

With Siya Kolisi and Handre Pollard sidelined while Duane Vermeulen remained in South Africa, Nienaber was always going to name a new captain for this weekend's return meeting with Argentina in Buenos Aires.

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.

Nienaber has instead opted for Mbonambi, who will lead the side in his 60th Test match, becoming the second black Springbok captain after Kolisi.

To listen to the coach explain it, naming Mbonambi was an easy decision.

"I'm extremely proud of Bongi, and he's been a brilliant leader for us since 2018," Nienaber 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."

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.

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