Durban — Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says the all-SA URC final in Cape Town is a shot in the arm for the national squad as they prepare for their three-Test series against Wales, which kicks off on July 2 in Pretoria.
Nienaber has just concluded the second week of his training camp ahead of the Wales visit and eagerly awaits the new additions from the Bulls and Stormers, who will join the camp on Sunday.
“One could see the difference in the quality and intensity of our training sessions this week, so we are pleased with the strides made,” said Nienaber, who has been working with just 17 players.
“The players are grasping what we would like to see in terms of the detail in our patterns and systems, and that is very encouraging for us with our opening Test against Wales in two weeks.
“The guys have been working hard on and off the field and it was great to see their keenness to help out in positions where needed, so that we could get the best out of our training sessions.”
Nienaber said the arrival of the players involved in the URC final will enable the camp to move up a gear in their preparations.
A group of 13 players are expected join the squad from the two URC finalists, including experienced players such as Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe (both props), as well as several uncapped players including Salmaan Moerat, Ruan Nortje (both locks), Evan Roos, Elrigh Louw (both loose forwards), and Kurt-Lee Arendse (utility back).
The squad will be back at full capacity as they enter the first Test week in two weeks’ time as a number of overseas-based players return to Springbok duty.
“We are looking forward to welcoming a number of players from the Stormers and Bulls next week, and we believe it will add a new dimension to the squad in terms of having several experienced players back as well as some new players at camp,” said Nienaber.
“We are very excited to have two teams contest the URC final and knowing that one of them will be crowned the champions is fantastic. The experience the players will gain from playing in a final will bode well for them as individuals, and for us as a national squad, and I’d like to wish all of them good luck for the final.
“They will also enter the camp match fit and in a good space from a confidence perspective, so we are looking forward to returning to the training field after a good break this weekend and we believe we will take things up a notch with an eye on the Wales Tests. So, there is a lot to look forward to.”