Replacement back-rower Dalton Papali’i has revealed the tongue-in-cheek name he has come up with for the All Blacks subs bench heading into their Rugby World Cup final clash versus the Springboks and their famed ‘bomb squad’.
South Africa’s bench has been a hot topic in Paris ahead of the decider after the way it managed to turn a 6-15 semi-final deficit into a jaw-dropping 16-15 win over England last weekend with a late 10-point surge in which sub second row RG Snyman pounced for a try and sub out-half Handre Pollard added five points off the kicking tee.
However, rather than feel daunted by the ‘bomb squad’ and its fearsome reputation dating back to the 2019 World Cup in Japan, Papali’i has let slip how the All Blacks view their own bench.
“I’ll tell you a quick story,” he quipped at a midweek media briefing at the Paris Country Club. “I have got a little group happening in the team room at our hotel and we are watching Band of Brothers and the 101st Airborne and their Easy Company.
“So, I made a little joke saying, ‘You know they have got the ‘bomb squad’, so we could have the ‘easy company’. We want to go and finish the job and be in the trenches.
“Talking about the bomb squad, man, they have proven themselves. They can come on and change a game like that, so we sort of need to identify whoever is on the bench and need to really be screwed on up top and give it hell.”
Forwards coach Jason Ryan also gave his assessment on the South African bench. “It would be good to take some gas out of that bomb, wouldn’t it?
“They have got their DNA as a forward pack. We have got trust in our plan this week and we believe we will be able to be there right until the end.
“They [South Africa] are just playing to their strengths. It’s a big part of what they do. It’s worked for them. We have got a good plan. The referees will make their decision on what they see. Those pictures have got to be clear, especially in big moments.”