Cape Town – Jacques Nienaber says the players’ motivation comes from playing for the Springboks, and not necessarily awards, following the snubbing of a number of stars and the coach himself in the World Rugby awards nominations this week.
The likes of lock Eben Etzebeth, captain Siya Kolisi and Lukhanyo Am have been among the leading lights in what has been a tough, but rather successful 2021 for the world champions.
But there was outrage from Bok fans on social media after none of the Boks or their coaches were acknowledged – although Am was nominated for the Try of the Year following the spectacular effort for SA A against the British and Irish Lions, which was sparked by a devastating run by Cheslin Kolbe.
Wallaby captain Michael Hooper, Australian centre Samu Kerevi, England lock Maro Itoje and French scrumhalf Antoine Dupont on the World Player of the Year list, while Dave Rennie (Australia), Ian Foster (New Zealand), Simon Middleton (England Women), Allan Bunting and Corey Sweeney (both with New Zealand Women’s Sevens) are up for the Coach of the Year award.
“We trust and respect the process to get to the nominations, and if you look at all the nominations – coaches, players, women’s rugby – if you look at the quality around all sections, I think it’s tremendous,” Nienaber said during the team announcement press conference on Tuesday.
“We are very happy for the guys who got nominated. Some of our players in the past have been nominated, and it’s very special for them. We wish all the nominees the best of luck with the whole process.
“The motivation comes from playing for the Boks, and I know it sounds clichéd, but it is so. The guys don’t play for a tap on the shoulder and a ‘well done’. They are playing for their country, and on Saturday, it’s South Africa against England.
“We have full confidence in the process that World Rugby use to get the nominations. There is good quality, and good luck to them with the process going forward.”