Mon 18 Jul 2022 | 08:00

Boks turn their focus to the All Blacks

Boks turn their focus to the All Blacks
Mon 18 Jul 2022 | 08:00
Boks turn their focus to the All Blacks
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The victorious series against Wales may be done and dusted and the start of the Rugby Championship tournament till three weeks away, but there’s no time for the Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber to spend time just kicking back.

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Nienaber, fresh from the Augean three-Test series against Wales, will immediately switch focus to facing New Zealand in back-to-back Rugby Championship Tests on home soil.

Speaking to the media after his team’s 30-14 series-clinching win over Wales in Cape Town at the weekend, the Bok coach admitted his side needed to prepare thoroughly before facing the All Blacks in Nelspruit (August 6) and Johannesburg (a week later).

“It was not a polished performance,” Nienaber said of the win against Wales.

“I think there’s a lot to work on still.”

There are also some major injury concerns.

Top of the list is the suspected fractured jaw suffered by star wing Cheslin Kolbe, who was replaced in the 20th minute against Wales.

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“I am not 100 percent sure [about Kolbe’s injury], but that was the call when we were on the field,” the Bok coach said.

“Obviously, it’s not ideal, especially when you go with a six-two split. It always comes with a risk.”

There are also still question marks over the availability of scrumhalf Cobus Reinach (shoulder injury) and No.8 Duane Vermeulen (knee procedure) – two World Cup winners currently busy with rehabilitation in South Africa.

“We will reassess all the injuries in the next couple of days,” Nienaber told the post-match media briefing.

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“As a selection group, we will sit within the next week and have a discussion about our plan going forward into the Rugby Championship,” the coach added.

“There are a couple of guys – Cobus has to pass a medical from [French club] Montpellier, Duane also needs to pass a medical [at Irish province Ulster].

“There are a lot of guys busy with rehab, so we need to sit and reassess.

“The biggest thing for us was to focus on Wales and get past this specific game.'”

(Continue below …)

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The All Blacks will arrive on the back of a historic series loss to Ireland in New Zealand, but Nienaber was cautious of over-confidence going into those clashes.

“The set-piece functioned well, but there were still a few hiccups,” he said of the two-one series win against Wales.

“We are still getting used to the break-foot at the scrums,” he said of a rule introduced during this year’s Six Nations Championship.

It requires hookers to have a foot forward during the referee’s calls of “crouch” and “bind”.

It can only be withdrawn on the call of “set”.

“It’s something that the Northern Hemisphere also struggled with during the Six Nations,” Nienaber said.

“We will get better at it.

“We will have to build a lot still in terms of where we are.”

@rugby365com, with additional reporting by AFP

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