Injury concern as 'lights go out on Boks'
World Champions South Africa emerged from a 20-month slumber to dispatch a bruising Georgian side (40-9) at Loftus Versfeld on Friday and they suffered their first injury setback.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber revealed that veteran lock Eben Etzebeth suffered a rib injury.
The World Cup-winning second row forward was a prominent figure in the first half – when he produced a number of strong carries and made all his tackles.
However, Etzebeth did not appear after half-time, with Marvin Orie taking his place in the second half.
Nienaber was unsure how serious the injury is, but added that there are “a couple of players with a knock or a bruise”.
The Boks’ post-match media briefing was also cast into darkness by a power failure at the venue – about six minutes into proceedings – but the coach and captain saw the funny side of it and took it all in their stride.
The skipper, Siyamthanda Kolisi, even used his cell phone to provide some light, until the power in the room was restored a short while later – allowing the virtual media briefing to resume.
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The new Bok coach, who was pleased as punch to make his ‘debut’ 18 months after being appointed, said discipline was an issue – especially in the first half – when they conceded most of their 11 penalties.
It allowed flyhalf Tedo Abzhandadze to kick three penalties and saw the visitors lead 9-5 on the half-hour mark.
“They caught us a bit off-guard,” the Bok coach said, adding: “Now we have a marker and we know where we are.”
The Bok coach was complimentary towards the opposition.
“We knew of and expected their physicality,” Nienaber said.
“Yes, we wanted a tough start.
“This is what Test matches are all about.
“Georgia brought physicality and we wanted that.
“We improved in the second half and that was pleasing for me.”
Nienaber expected his squad to improve further after this match.
“Next week [in the second Test against Georgia at Ellis Park], we have to improve in every aspect.
“That performance was probably expected after 20 months away from Test rugby.
“We wanted to play with some cohesion, but Georgia played well in the first half and we were under pressure, so we probably need to get better in everything.
“We anticipated a stop-start beginning and what was pleasing was how we got cohesion in the second half. That was important.”
* Meanwhile, former coach Rassie Erasmus, now South Africa’s Director of Rugby, appeared on the field during the game wearing a bib as a water carrier and talking to the players when there were stoppages.
Nienaber did not clarify Erasmus’s role.
“We try to think out of the box,” he said.
“It was nice to have Rassie getting feedback from the players, running water.”
Nienaber fulfilled a similar role at the last World Cup, while Erasmus was head coach.