Jack Crowley's confident press conference reminder gives Springboks something to chew over
"That is a massive thing I took at the start."
The Springboks laid their selection cards flat on the table, on Tuesday. Just up the road, at Complex de la Chambrerie, Jack Crowley was playing his part in what could be the Irish response.
Heading into this World Cup, back in mid August anyway, not many of us would have predicted we would be discussing 7:1 bench split so much. As it happened, South Africa tried it out in a warm-up win over England and liked it so much they are going with it for Saturday's clash with Ireland.
That match-day 23 selection has many of us speculating if Ireland will meet fire with fire, and go with six (or even seven) forwards on their replacements bench. Adding fuel to the speculative fire, Jack Crowley had some interesting comments during his chat with the press.
Jack Crowley on his versatility
So far in his professional career, Jack Crowley has played outhalf, inside centre and fullback for Munster. In the green jersey of Ireland, he has mainly been used at outhalf but has been given a spin at inside centre.
Crowley was asked about that versatility he has shown, thus far, and provided a confident response:
"You might look at things and see them as a negative and at times they can be but for me, learning in all those different positions, that is a massive thing
"I took at the start. I never looked at it as a negative being able to cover different positions. Like I've said before, if you're at 15 you know what the 10 is going to be looking for and when you're at 10 you know what the 15 is going to be defending like so to get that exposure and those experiences is massive. Game time at any time is massive."
Those comments offer a reminder to the Springboks that he can cover multiple positions from the bench, this Saturday. That means he could potentially cover three backline positions, with perhaps Conor Murray or Jamison Gibson-Park in reserve, too.
That would allow Ireland to select an extra forward, such as Iain Henderson, Joe McCarthy or Ryan Baird, if they are concerned about the Boks heavy-stacking their 23. Murray [covering scrumhalf and outhalf from the bench] is another option.
Crowley was also asked about competing with Johnny Sexton for the 10 jersey, with a reporter mentioning that the Ireland captain had "blocked" the path for many years. "I think he hasn't blocked it but he has opened it to show the possibilities that are capable," Crowley replied.
"Even at 38 to show to youngsters the skills and dedication he put into his game, it can go a long way and he's showing the youngsters in Ireland what is possible if you apply yourself to your preparation and put everything into the game."
Over in the Springbok camp, winger Cheslin Kolbe gave his take on that forwards-heavy bench for Saturday's game. "We respect the decision of the coaches and we as players just go out, whoever gets selected, to prepare as well as we can throughout the week," he said.
"I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of [talking] about it, but that’s things we as players can’t control. We just focus on the things we can control, and make sure that we don’t get distracted by what’s said.
"There is risk added as well, but we are quite fortunate to have players that can play in various positions and do as well as the player that’s been selected to start there."
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