Nienaber: Expect Better Boks in play-offs
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: South Africa are well on their way to improve in all areas ahead of the play-offs vowed defence coach Jacques Nienaber.
The Springbok opened their World Cup campaign with a 13-23 defeat to the All Blacks. It was certainly a performance not fitting for a team regarded as one of the favourites to lift the cup.
However, Springbok defence coach Nienaber is adamant that the defeat has provided them with valuable lessons.
The 46-year-old also revealed that the experience of playing the All Blacks was the perfect preparation for the play-off phase. South Africa is set to face Ireland in the quarterfinals following Joe Schmidts’ men win over Scotland in the opening round.
“It’s always nice to see what challenges New Zealand would throw at us,” Nienaber told reporters in Japan.
“We had an idea that they would kick a little bit more and they kicked a lot more. I probably didn’t expect them to kick that much but, yes, we did expect a lot of attacking kicks.
“Out of the 21 they kicked that we had to defend, I think there was about eight that I would say they had the upper hand on and, unfortunately, two were catastrophic for us, but the others I thought we handled fairly well,”
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He added: “For us it was a great match in terms of tactics, physical confrontation, getting challenged in all departments; mentally, the build-up during the week, the enormity of the game, then in the game itself, the physicality, the speed of the game.
“You know if you play the All Blacks and you make two errors it’s 14 points – we made three consecutively and it was 17 points. So it’s nice to play a game like that where there is that much pressure and where if you make a mistake they’re going to punish you.
“Our system will develop. Think New Zealand opened up something in the way they attack and their style of play that we have to address and work on so it was nice to get that insight and start focusing on that,” he said.
With the Springboks’ next match against Namibia on Saturday, Nienaber conceded that South Africa had “no point limit in our heads” against their neighbours, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament.
Instead, they are solely focused on developing and improving under Rassie Erasmus.
“There is no point limit in our heads. It is not a case of saying if we concede just three points in the game, we will be happy with that, or if we concede 30, we will be disappointed.
“Obviously there were things that we lacked in the New Zealand Test and we want to improve on those and build our systems and the skillset of our individual players within the system.
“Seeing improvement in those areas would be more joyful for me than how many or how few points we concede,” he said, adding: “We’ve got a plan in terms of developing the squad and that would always take preference above anything,”