Ollie Ritchie: Nepo Laulala's All Blacks selection designed to combat Springboks 'bomb squad' in World Cup final

OPINION: You hear a lot about the 'bomb squad' every time the Springboks team is named and rightfully so.

Their bomb squad is very effective, when it comes off the bench, and you saw just how the South African reserves influenced that World Cup semi-final against England last weekend by wrestling momentum back.

Interestingly, the All Blacks have gone with Nepo Laulala as one of their reserve props in place of Fletcher Newell. That is clearly to try and combat the Springboks scrum.

All Black prop Nepo Lauala & Newshub rugby reporter Ollie Ritchie.
All Black prop Nepo Lauala & Newshub rugby reporter Ollie Ritchie. Photo credit: Getty Images/AM Show

Obviously, that's a weapon of theirs and one they use to great affect. Bringing Laulala, along with Tamaiti Williams, off the bench is certainly a way of fighting fire with fire at set-piece time, particularly at scrumtime, when they need to get parity with the Springboks.

The All Blacks have tried to separate themselves from the issues over the racism accusations made against South African hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

From an All Blacks perspective, it has nothing to do with them. 

They certainly would have followed it closely, as to whether Mbonambi would be available for selection, given that ongoing investigation. He has been cleared and is available for selection, so they have to plan accordingly.

If you look back to the All Blacks quarter-final, they had an off-field distraction in Mark Telea, who was dropped for breaching team protocols. In many ways, that galvanised the All Blacks that week - they came closer and didn't let that become a distraction.

You may see exactly the same thing with the Springboks - a really tightknit group. They won't want that distraction to hover over this World Cup final.

Ollie Ritchie is Newshub's rugby reporter at the World Cup. Join Newshub at 8am Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks v Springboks final