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VIDEO: Nienaber on consistency in team selection

OPINION: The lack of consistency in team selection has been the golden thread in the Springboks’ three Rugby Championship Test matches and coach Jacques Nienaber acknowledged that it put a lot of pressure on the team.

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Playing with different combinations every Test match prevents the team from building cohesion and continuity.

Only two players featured in all three Test matches, that being fullback Willie le Roux and tighthead Frans Malherbe.

After the humiliating loss at the hands of New Zealand in Auckland a fortnight ago, Nienaber made nine changes to the side that faced Argentina on Saturday.

The refrain from Nienaber throughout the Rugby Championship and building towards the World Cup, has been spreading the load and getting everyone game time.

But this tactic, as preparation for the World Cup, has come at a price.

It has prevented the team from performing at its highest level.

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It is clear that the Springbok management has not been results driven in this World Cup year.

They came into the season with a plan that they hope will allow them to select the best possible squad for the World Cup and peak at the right time.

France, the host of this year’s World Cup, has been preparing for the last four years.

According to scrumhalf Antoine Dupont, the French have never had such regularity, such consistency, and so much talent.

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Dupont played in the 2019 World Cup in Japan but said the 2023 tournament was different for the French.

Last time the side was more conflicted and complicated.

It was a time of change, with the older generation leaving and a new group arriving.

Nienaber acknowledges that three different teams in the three Rugby Championship Tests against Australia, New Zealand and Argentina had a major effect on the outcome of those games.

(Continue below…)

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“The easiest way to get continuity and cohesion, is to get continuity in team selection, and that is probably where we put the team under pressure,” Nienaber said at the post-match press conference at Ellis Park on Saturday.

“Every week they have a different hooker, different prop, a different rhythm, so that’s the nice thing in terms of taking them almost out of their rhythm, the players, because of the way we chop and change in terms of team selection.

“So, as we get closer to the World Cup, there will definitely be more consistency in team selection.”

However, he said that opportunities would be provided to players who had yet to feature prominently in the season.

“On Tuesday we said if we can get a victory tonight it would be nice to make some changes,” he said.

“The main thing for us is to spread the load and make sure that we are match fit and match ready and everyone has had some minutes and been under pressure before we leave for the World Cup.

“We said from the outset that Argentina is a tough team and they proved that today [Saturday].

“That said, I am pleased with the way the players ground out the result,” Nienaber said.

“And we have three warm-up games remaining before the World Cup starts.”

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