‘Big thing’ for Springboks is to cash in on dominance in second Rugby World Cup match

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says they aren’t focusing on Ireland just yet. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says they aren’t focusing on Ireland just yet. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Published Sep 12, 2023


The only time the Springboks will look at Ireland this week is when they analyse Romania ahead of Sunday’s second Pool B clash of their World Cup campaign.

After the Boks dispatched Scotland 18-3 at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille in their first match of the tournament, the South Africans will shift their focus to the Romanians, who lost heavily to Ireland in their opener.

Said Bok coach Jacques Nienaber, they will only look at the Irish then and not focus on the match that only happens next Saturday, again in Marseille.

They overcame the Scots, which Nienaber described as the “slippery” game in the pool, and will most likely be contending with Ireland for top spot.

But the Boks won’t slip up by trying to focus on the world’s No 1 team and forget about the task on Sunday in Bordeaux against Romania.

“We won’t even think about Ireland,” said Nienaber.

“Our next focus is only Romania. The only thing we will look at (involving Ireland) is Romania playing against Ireland (in the pool opener which the Irish won 82-8). It’s Romania and Romania alone.

“The opportunities (the Boks had against Scotland) and the stuff we did wrong, we need to fix that before we can go further. The big thing for us is to get a return for our dominance. We just couldn’t build any scoreboard pressure.

“There is a lot to look at, and we must ensure we pitch up with the right mentality against Romania.”

According to Nienaber, their win over Scotland was a step in the right direction to get out of their pool.

The Scots put up a massive fight in the first half, and SA went into the break leading only 6-3.

But once their slow poison started working upfront, the Boks got the upper hand and managed to score two tries in quick succession that put their opponents away.

“Scotland can create something miraculous out of nothing, so credit to the players. There was a lot of hard work off and on the field to keep them at bay,” Nienaber said.

“This was a slippery one for us, playing the number five team in the world and (them) having the ability to knock off anyone on the day. We knew it was going to be a grind. We had to be really sharp, it took a lot.

“If you look at history, the last time we played them, the points difference was 15 points (a 30-15 win at Murrayfield in 2021), and it was 15 today. They are a tough team that sticks in there.”

The Boks will hope that the shoulder injury of Eben Etzebeth is not that serious, and that their enforcer will be available for the clash against the Irish.

After picking up the knock, Etzebeth will sit out the Romania clash to give himself enough time to recover, but the Boks didn’t plan on using him in any case.

The estimate is that he will be out of action for seven to 10 days.

The centre combination of Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel also did not fire on the day, and SA have Andre Esterhuizen and Canan Moodie to fall back on should they decide to do so ahead of Sunday.