Nienaber opens up about 'nice' Euro challenge
South Africa, after the disappointing Rugby Championship campaign, will be looking to continue building towards the 2023 World Cup – where they will defend their crown.
It starts in Cardiff on November 6, when they face Wales – followed by encounters with Scotland (November 13, Edinburgh) and England (November 20, London).
Jacques Nienaber’s Springboks beat Wales in the 2019 World Cup semifinal and demolished England in the Final to claim the Webb Ellis Cup – adding extra spice to their Euro venture two years out from the next global showpiece.
Nienaber spoke about the large number of British and Irish Lions players that will be available for their opening match against Wales – the likes of captain Alun Wyn Jones, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Adam Beard, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi, Gareth Davies, Josh Adams and Liam Williams.
Jones will become the most capped international player in history if he makes an appearance against the Boks.
“They have massive experience,” Nienaber told @rugby365com, adding: “If you look at their flyhalves – Gareth Anscombe [27 caps] has the least experience.
“Rhys Priestland has 50 caps and Dan Biggar is approaching 100 Tests.
“You look at their No.15, Liam Williams, [he has] massive experience [70-odd caps].”
Nienaber said the vastly experienced squad has some good ‘game drivers’.
He spoke about seasoned B&I Lions leaders like captain Alun Wyn Jones and Ken Owens.
Nienaber said if you look at all three teams – not only Wales, but Scotland and England – experience is the key.
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“Although Eddie [Jones] chose a little bit of a young [England] squad, if you look at the spine – Maro Itoje [48 caps], Ben Youngs [109 caps], Owen Farrell [93 caps], Jonny May [66 caps] – they have plenty of experience.
“That is going to be the challenge.
“Even Scotland, their backs – Ali Price [42 caps], Finn Russell [55 caps] and Stuart Hogg [85 caps] – they have experience.”
The Bok coach added that the notorious Northern Hemisphere conditions will also prove to be another challenge.
“You can get a day when it is raining, the wind is howling, where it is not conducive to keeping the ball in hand.
“If you look at the squads they [Wales, Scotland and England] selected, they have quality players.
“That will be a challenge for our outside backs.
“That is one area where the number of Test caps and experience in our outside backs where most of our players are under 20 Test caps.
“That will be a challenge for us, in terms of what those three teams bring.
“On any given day it might be a beautiful day and they can take us from side to side with the quality of the players they have.
“The challenge for us will be to adapt to whatever conditions we face.
“It is going to be a nice challenge for us.”