The Springboks are purely for 'performance'
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has a ‘creative’ plan to blood young talent, while keeping the national team competitive.
Nienaber, speaking to the media after unveiling his first squad for the year, made it clear that ‘winning’ will always be at a premium for South Africa’s first-choice team.
It means he will not deviate from his stated intention to select the best and strongest available team, to face Wales in the three-Test series next month.
With just on 15 months before they have to defend their World Cup in France, Nienaber is determined to keep the Springboks firmly entrenched in the No.1 world ranking.
There is a plan to ‘blood some youngsters’, but not at the expense of the Boks’ winning culture.
“When you represent your country or the Springboks, there are a couple of things you have to keep in mind,” Nienaber told a virtual media briefing.
“SA ‘A’ games, are maybe for ‘development’.
“The Springboks are for ‘performance’. It is a performance platform,” he stated unequivocally.
“You are representing your country. You are representing a brand that has been there for years, for hundreds of years.
“I don’t think that is necessarily the platform to develop.
“SA ‘A’ games are a great platform to develop.”
He said circumstances may force his hand, but he is determined to stick to the plan.
“If results go your way or there are injuries, there might be opportunities within the Springboks to give players exposure to top international games,” the coach said.
“The key is always, when you represent your country, when you represent the Springboks, you want to win.
“That is why we play for the Springboks, to make the country proud.”
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He made it clear the reason for naming a squad of 23 is to introduce players to the Bok culture, but that doesn’t mean they will play against Wales or in the Rugby Championship.
“There are SA ‘A’ games lined up for the end-of-year tour, where we can be a little bit creative and start introducing younger guys.
“We obviously have a nice plan out for the whole year, where we can start introducing some younger guys and introduce them to top high-performance environments of Test matches.
“But that would be dependent on our results and that would be dependent on injuries.
“Our plan might be to play a player in the SA ‘A’ game on the end-of-year tour, but if we pick up a few injuries he may be starting a Test as soon as the first test match against Wales.
“Yes, we do have a plan for 2022, but that plan changes quickly based on results and injuries.”