‘He is someone I have always admired’: Leo Cullen on Jacques Nienaber’s move to Leinster

Published Apr 16, 2023


Johannesburg - Leinster coach Leo Cullen revealed that he has only the utmost admiration for Jacques Nienaber after it was revealed on Saturday that the current Springbok coach will join the Irish giants at the end of the year.

In a bombshell revelation by SA Rugby earlier on the day, it was confirmed that Nienaber will depart his current post to take up a position as assistant in Dublin, starting for the 2023/24 United Rugby Championship (URC) season and after the Rugby World Cup in France.

Speaking to the media after Leinster remained unbeaten in the URC with an excellent 39-36 victory over the embattled Emirates Lions at Emirates Airline Park, a chuffed Cullen waxed lyrical about the newly revealed appointment.

“We were aware of Jacques for a few years at Munster originally and now back at the Springboks,” Cullen explained.

“We have always followed their (Nienaber and Felix Jones – who will join Leinster from the Sharks also next season) progress with great interest. Jacques is someone who I have always admired – he is a great coach.

“All the feedback we have heard of him as a coach is that he is outstanding and that he is a great man as well. Probably, the man part is the most attractive part of him because you want great characters in our group.

“He is someone who has delivered at the highest-level of the game. I spoke to Jacques a little while back and it is a fantastic appointment for us, I think, as a club because of the experience that he has.

“We have a huge amount of respect for what the Springboks have achieved in recent years, if you think back to the World Cup in 2019 and the (British and Irish) Lions tour as well. We are really delighted to have secured his services post World Cup.”

Due to the World Cup’s scheduling in September and October, Nienaber will in all probability join Leinster after the start of the new URC season.

Before he can cast his thoughts towards the Irish franchise, however, Nienaber will first have to inspire and engineer the Boks’ World Cup defence. His first assignment, in that regard, will be a compacted Rugby Championship.

The Boks start that campaign against Australia on July 8 at Loftus Versfeld. They then travel to New Zealand a week later, before finishing off the tournament on July 23 against Argentina.

They will then play a handful of World Cup warm-ups against Argentina, Wales, and New Zealand in August, before kicking off the showpiece event with a group defining match against Scotland on September 10 in Marseille.

A match against Romania follows, after which a mouth-watering encounter awaits versus World Rugby’s No 1 ranked team and Six Nations champions Ireland. The Boks will finish off Group B with an encounter against Tonga on October 1, with possible knockout stages awaiting thereafter.