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‘I don’t know if this is my last Test with the Springboks ...’ Outgoing Jacques Nienaber hints at possible return

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber oversees training

Jacques Nienaber will be joining Leinster after the World Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Oct 27, 2023


Coach Jacques Nienaber is departing the Springboks for a new position at Ireland giants Leinster but he has hinted that the door is not closed on him one day returning to the green-and-gold.

The defence guru made some significant changes to the Bok side yesterday for tomorrow’s World Cup final against the All Blacks at the Stade de France.

Handré Pollard and Faf de Klerk replace Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach at halfback, while there is just one back in Willie le Roux on the bench.

But it might not be the last Bok team that Nienaber has selected.

“It’s funny. I went for a run this morning and I was thinking about it,” the head coach reflected yesterday.

“In 2011, I spent time with the Boks (as a defence consultant). I had seven games with the Springboks and it was unbelievable.

“In 2016 I got another opportunity with the Boks but I’d already signed with Munster – so I only had three Test matches.

"I thought when I left for Munster that’s it ... then we came back to 2018.

“The point is, you don’t know the future. That’s how I see it. I’m not emotional. I don’t know if this is my last Test match with the Boks or not. “You can plan life as much as you want but life has its own ways. Destiny has its own way.

“I just focus on how you should approach the game, that any day can be your last day with the team. I just enjoy every single minute of it. I stay in the now and enjoy the players.

"I’ve twice been in positions where I’ve thought this is the end – I’ll never be here again and look where we are now.”

While on the subject of nostalgia, Nienaber spoke of his memories of the 1995 final with New Zealand.

“I remember it very well. I remember after the victory, we were all in the streets celebrating. I was at university in Bloemfontein. I watched it again about a year ago.

It’s amazing how the game has changed.

“I think there were over 80 kicks in that game. And they played with a leather ball. There wasn’t any lifting in the line-outs, so there were a lot of differences back then.

“The game has really changed a lot. The ball in play was under 24 minutes. There was almost no rugby ... it was set-piece after set-piece.

“The game is a far better product now than it was back then but I’m not taking anything away from that epic match.”