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We aren’t boring: Argentina challenge means different styles and tactics for Springboks

Jacques Nienaber, coach of South Africa during the Third Test against the British and Irish Lions. Photo: BackpagePix

Jacques Nienaber, coach of South Africa during the Third Test against the British and Irish Lions. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Aug 11, 2021


THE world champions Springboks begin the defence of their Rugby Championship crown this week against Argentina, and coach Jacques Nienaber is adamant that there is nothing “boring” about how his team go about their job.

In the wake of the Boks’ 2-1 series triumph over the British & Irish Lions, there has been worldwide criticism of the Boks’ style of play, with All Black coach Ian Foster among that number. Foster said watching the Boks play the Lions had “put him to sleep.”

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ALSO READ: Joseph Dweba to debut as Springboks make 10 changes for Rugby Championship clash against Argentina

But Nienaber said the rugby world would in fact be a boring place if everybody played in the same manner.

“That’s the beauty of rugby. There are different styles. It would be unbelievably boring if everybody played the same,” Nienaber said.

“Different styles mean different tactics. If you take the last World Cup, for instance. We played the most attack-minded team in the quarter-final (Japan) and then we had to change our whole mentality for a team that played a massive kicking game in the semi-final (Wales).

“We had to try and outsmart them and players had to give their input. Then we had England who had a very balanced approach.

“I don’t think there is one specific way to play rugby.

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“Your playing style is determined by the athletic attributes of the players. New Zealand, for example, has specific athletic attributes in their players and they will create a game plan to amplify those special characteristics.

“We will have a different style because we will look to amplify our athletic abilities. Japan will have different athletic abilities.

ALSO READ: Fresh faces, old heroes lined up for Springboks opening Rugby Championship against the Argentina

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“So, playing styles differ because athletes differ. The athletes that make up the Japan side and the athletes that make up our side, or Australia, New Zealand or Argentina, are all different.”

Nienaber went on to defend the integrity of the series against the Lions.

“It was tight and could have gone either way,” he said.

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Nienaber has made a number of changes to the team to play Argentina. He said this was not because the Boks disrespected the Pumas, but because some of his players simply had to be given a break due to the physical nature of the series against the Lions.

ALSO READ: British Lions ’tour like no other’ augments Springbok heroes

There are 10 changes in all to the starting line-up, with six of them in the backline while there is a new front row that includes fit-again Ox Nche at loosehead prop and hooker Joseph Dweba, who will make his debut.

The hardy Pumas will possibly be even more physical than the Lions and that explains a return to a 6-2 split on the bench.

The only players to retain their starting places from the third Test against the Lions are captain Siya Kolisi , the second row of Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, No 8 Jasper Wiese and Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf).

The industrious Franco Mostert is given a well-deserved break and is replaced by Kwagga Smith.

ALSO READ: We’ll be ready to take on Argentina, says Boks assistant coach Deon Davids after tough Lions series

Elton Jantjies starts at flyhalf and there is new midfield of Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel, with the tough-tackling duo of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am enjoying a holiday.

The other changes in the backline see Damian Willemse replace Willie le Roux at fullback, while the Sharks pair of Sbu Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi come in on the wings for Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi.

Among the substitutes, Marvin Orie and Dan du Preez have been drafted in to provide cover at lock and loose forward respectively, while the two backline replacements are Herschel Jantjies and Morne Steyn, the halfback pairing that played off the bench last week.

Springbok starting XV: Damian Willemse, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Frans Steyn, Aphelele Fassi, Elton Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Jasper Wiese, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (capt), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Wilco Louw, Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche; Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Dan du Preez, Herschel Jantjies, Morne Steyn

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