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Don’t expect new Springboks against ‘dangerous’ Wales

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is going to go for the tried and trusted in their series against Wales. Photo: Javier Garcia/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is going to go for the tried and trusted in their series against Wales. Photo: Javier Garcia/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Jun 22, 2022

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Durban - The silver lining for Wales after none of their four teams made the United Rugby Championship playoffs is that coach Wayne Pivac has been working with his entire squad for over a month, while his Springbok counterpart Jacques Nienaber has had no such luxury.

In fact, the Bok coach will only have some of his stars on Sunday, six days before the first Test against Wales – key flyhalf Handre Pollard (Montpellier) and No 8 Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) are finishing off their overseas commitments.

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Of course, Nienaber has also been without the Bulls and Stormers players until this week, and much of his training camp has comprised 17 players, mostly Sharks, while the Japan-based players have been drifting in.

“Wales have had a lot of preparation time before this series – they will be well-coached, well-prepared and desperate, and that makes them extremely dangerous,” Nienaber said yesterday. And Nienaber says Wales are going to come out fighting after their pride was severely dented by a poor Six Nations campaign, which included a historic loss to Italy in Cardiff.

“That is why they are going to be so dangerous,” Nienaber reasoned.

“They will be a desperate Wales side, and I am saying that not because I am guessing what is going on in their camp right now, but because in 2018, we were in the same position (in 2017, the Boks struggled in then-coach Allister Coetzee’s last season).”

It is for this reason that Nienaber strongly hinted that his match-23 for the first Test next Saturday at Loftus will contain few, if any, of the host of newcomers announced in his 43-man squad.

When asked if he would use the Wales series and the Rugby Championship to grow his depth ahead of next year’s World Cup, he said: “It is a balancing act, but only to a degree. When you represent your country, you are representing a proud brand that is well over 100 years old, and you have a responsibility to perform and make South Africans proud.

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“We obviously have a plan to manage players, but it can change very quickly as injuries inevitably arise.

“If there is an opportunity to blood someone, it will more than likely be determined by injuries.”

In other words, Nienaber is not going to mess with the tried-and-tested formula that defeated the British & Irish Lions last year, and was effective in the tight tussles with the All Blacks, where one match was just lost and the other just won. Nienaber said that for now, it is vital that the fresh faces in the squad focus on settling into the systems at the Boks installed by director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and Nienaber over the last five years.

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“We just have to make sure all of the players are aligned,” Nienaber said. “A lot of the guys have been with us for nearly 40 Test matches, and those who are coming in must be quickly aligned, and that is the responsibility of both the coaches and the players.”

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