Jacques Nienaber says the Springboks have some areas of improvement ahead of the clash with Namibia. Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets
Springbok defence coach Jacques Nienaber says how many points they concede or score won’t be the most important factor in their second World Cup game against Namibia at the City of Toyota Stadium tomorrow.

The Boks have much to improve on after their 23-13 opening defeat to New Zealand, and their defence is certainly one of those work-ons, according to Nienaber: “Our system will develop, and obviously New Zealand opened up something in the way they attack and their style of play that we have to address and work on so it was nice to get that insight and start focusing on that,” said Nienaber.

“Because we have been together through the Rugby Championship it has been great to work with the guys. I thought we had an unbelievable vibe at the training on Wednesday in terms of the intensity and the things that we wanted to fix, so we had nice focus and that’s the nice thing. These guys haven’t played for two or three weeks so they had an abundance of energy.

“We’ve got a plan in terms of developing the squad. That will always take precedence over everything else.

“We try and develop our game across the board with attack, defence, kicking, mental approach and our work ethic during the week and we try and improve on that.

“So in my mind sitting here if we concede three points that will be a good defensive performance and if we concede 30 I’ll be disappointed. But there are bigger things than that we would like to achieve in the game.

“Obviously there were things that we lacked in the New Zealand Test and we want to improve on those and build our systems and the skill-set of our individual players within the system. Seeing improvement in those areas would be more joyful for me than how many or how few points we concede,” he said.

The Boks had all the say in the opening quarter of the game, but things unravelled and momentum shifted after flyhalf Handre Pollard missed a sitter of a shot at goal.

That wasn’t the only thing that went wrong for the Boks, though, but they did come back from a 17-3 half-time deficit - with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe producing laudable outings.

Nienaber focused on the learnings he is confident they took from that game.

“We had an idea that they would kick a little bit more and they kicked a lot more. I probably didn’t expect them to kick that much but yes, we did expect a lot of attacking kicks.

“Out of the 21 they kicked that we had to defend, I think there was about eight that I would say they had the upper hand on and, unfortunately, two were catastrophic for us, but the others I thought we handled fairly well.

“It’s always a benefit to play the No 1 team in the world. It was like playing a semi-final game in your pool. I thought we learned a lot from it. I know people always say ‘we’ll learn from it’, but we really did.

“For us it was a great match in terms of tactics, physical confrontation, getting challenged in all departments; mentally, the build-up during the week, the enormity of the game, then in the game itself, the physicality, the speed of the game.


Cape Times