Kolisi: Nienaber no different to Erasmus

Jacques Nienaber (Gallo)
Jacques Nienaber (Gallo)

Cape Town - Rugby World champions in 2019 and Laureus World Sports Awards Team of the Year in 2020, Rassie Erasmus' Springboks have reached scary heights. 

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The celebrations have lasted nearly five months since that November 2 final triumph against England in Yokohama, but when the Boks take to the field to host Scotland in July, they will do so from a clean slate. 

Jacques Nienaber has taken over as head coach of the national side, replacing Erasmus, who moves into his role as Director of Rugby on a full-time basis. 

Nienaber and Erasmus go way back, having attended the army together as students before the former started work as a physiotherapist at Erasmus' union, the Free State Cheetahs, in 1997. 

Since then, Nienaber has evolved from a physiotherapist into a defensive analysts and assistant coach and he has worked alongside Erasmus at Western Province, Munster and the Springboks. 

In 2018 and 2019, Nienaber served as Erasmus' right-hand man and as the mastermind behind the defensive dominance the Boks asserted over their rivals in Japan. 

A man who has never been a fan of the spotlight, Nienaber must now take the step up into what has historically been one of the most difficult jobs in South African sport. 

Captain Siya Kolisi, though, believes that the Boks will have no trouble adjusting to Nienaber. 

"We took quite a dip for the couple of years before Rassie came and we had to work really hard, but that's what we're going to keep doing under coach Jacques," he said at the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin this week. 

"He is no different to coach Rassie. They have worked together for a very long time and I don't think a lot is going to change.

"We know Jacques and it's not like a new coach is coming through. We're still going to have the same drive and motivation and the main thing is going to be the main thing."

For Kolisi, being world champions alone is not enough and he wants the Boks to dominate world rugby for years to come. 

"I think for us and Jacques, what we have to do is work as hard as we can," he added.

"We want to maintain it. We want to be there for as long as we can. We don't want it to be a once-off."

Kolisi himself has had a whirlwind few months since the World Cup, having been in high demand internationally and operating as the face of the World Cup success. 

He insists, though, that his feet are remaining firmly on the ground.

"I definitely can't be a superstar amongst this team. I might be achieving stuff off the field, but without these guys I'm really nothing," he said.

"You get humbled very quickly in South Africa, so I appreciate that these guys will pop my head very quickly if it gets too big.

"I never take all the praises to heart, because I know they aren't mine to take. There is a whole team and a whole nation supporting us." 

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