Hooker Bongi Mbonambi is excited and ready for the international season to kick off when South Africa take on Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Mbonambi will start the match with Ox Nche and Frans Malherbe completing the front row, while Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch will provide cover off the bench.
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Last year the Boks chopped and changed their front row often during the British and Irish Lions series and the Rugby Championship, with a different front row backed in almost every match.
But on the end-of-year tour to the UK they managed to settle into two key front rows, with Nche, Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane starting all three games, while Kitshoff, Marx and Koch replaced them at the same time in each game.
Whether they continue with that trend, or rotate their front row as they did in the first two series last year, doesn’t make a difference to Mbonambi who is happy to play with any of the front rankers in the squad.
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“As a front row we have a great coach in Daan (Human). He knows us players in and out. Whatever combination we get put in we make sure that it works and we all get aligned with the plan,” said Mbonambi.
“We have a great starting forward pack and a great bench. Everyone puts in the effort, and at the end of the day as a player we just work hard on the field and the coaches make the final call on who they want to pick for the weekend.”
Back together as a squad for the first time since playing England in late November last year, Mbonambi says it has been a good build-up to the Welsh series and the home side are ready for the challenge.
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“It has obviously been a while since we have played together, but I must say the past four weeks we have been training really hard and with the different guys joining us from their franchises and different countries, we have made it work,” said Mbonambi.
“The coaches have had a proper plan throughout the four weeks, and as we always do with the Springboks, we work hard, no matter where we see ourselves or what the people outside are saying.
“The most important thing for us as players is that we all get aligned with the plan and process and we just take it day by day and work towards the result that we want.”