Nienaber has 'sympathy' for embattled counterpart Foster: 'The All Blacks will get it right'

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  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has expressed his sympathy with embattled All Black colleague Ian Foster's plight.
  • He argues pressure is part of the job and that fortunes can easily be reversed in an instant.
  • Duane Vermeulen also argues that a 'heartbeat' - even if it's low at the moment - is better than none at all and that the New Zealanders will come right.


Some coaching counterparts famously don't get along, but, in general, the rugby brotherhood stands behind each other.

That was evident again after Springbok mentor Jacques Nienaber sprung to the defence of his embattled All Black colleague Ian Foster, whose job is on the line following a string of poor results.

Another reverse in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash at Ellis Park would mean a sixth in seven starts for the New Zealanders.

Yet Nienaber intimated it's easy for outsiders to judge a coach, perhaps even prematurely.

"As coaches, we'll always have sympathy for each other," said South Africa's coach.

"It's a pressure environment, we're all under it. If you're a coach in countries where rugby is such a big sport like New Zealand and South Africa - places with massive history - then you're going to have a difficult job at times. 

"But it's not only the coaches. The players are also under massive pressure. We all know if you have lost three in a row, for example, you're under the microscope because of the expectations. 

"It is what it is."

READ | 'No team's ever played a perfect game' - Lood keeps Boks grounded after impressive

It's unsurprising then that Nienaber is wary of adopting the mindset that the Boks' wounded opponents are ripe for the taking, especially in a region where the All Blacks have won four out of the last five Tests played between the sides in Johannesburg (FNB Stadium and Ellis Park).

"If you look at the All Blacks, I'm sure they'll get it right. Our job is just to make sure they don't get it right against us," he said.

"They've got such a good coaching team with massive experience, they have centurions in their squad and great players. There's a good structure and organisation back home. 

"It's a matter of time. They pushed us hard in Nelspruit, we only scored our second try in the last minute. We're looking at this current issue with a fair dose of reality. It was tough and could've gone either way in certain periods of that match."

For veteran Bok No 8 Duane Vermeulen, redemption must surely be around the corner for the three-time world champions.

Springboks:

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux 

"It's the first time in New Zealand's history that they're ranked as low as fifth in the world rankings," he said.

"That will push them to be better and reach a different level on Saturday. It hurts, it's difficult to be down like that. But those downs need to happen for the ups to return.

"It's like a heartbeat. If you flatline, you're dead. I'd rather have a weak heartbeat than none at all. The All Blacks will be up for it, we'll have to be at our best."

Kick-off is at 17:05.


 

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