British & Irish Lions

Springbok coach Nienaber 'thankful' after fire accident: 'It could have been a lot worse'

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RG Snyman (right) and Damian De Allende (Gallo)
RG Snyman (right) and Damian De Allende (Gallo)
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is "thankful" that RG Snyman and Damian de Allende have escaped serious harm in a fire accident.
  • The players suffered superficial injuries after the accident, which happened in Ireland this past weekend.
  • Nienaber is expecting both to be available for the Springboks' series against the British Lions.

Accidents happen. That is the view of Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber following a petrol explosion that left two of his players - RG Snyman and Damian de Allende - with superficial burns in Ireland over the weekend. 

Nienaber confirmed on Wednesday that "it could have been a lot worse" and that he was "thankful" that the players had escaped serious harm. 

Snyman and De Allende will see a specialist again on Friday, and as soon as they can, they will fly back to South Africa to join up with the squad that is preparing for upcoming Tests against Georgia and the British & Irish Lions. 

Nienaber is expecting both to make a full recovery and be available for the upcoming international season, but he emphasised that the wellbeing of the players was far more important.

"We always just look at the players and if they will be able to play, but they are fine, and their families are fine, which is the most important thing," said Nienaber.

"It's not something that we can control, and I think that's why people call it an accident."

The Bok coach sympathised with the players, saying that adding petrol to a fire in an often wet Ireland was not uncommon. Nienaber was based in Ireland with Munster in 2016 and 2017 before moving back to South Africa with Rassie Erasmus to take charge of the Springboks from 2018. 

"For me, having been in Ireland, I understand," he said.

"It rains a little bit more in Ireland than in South Africa, and when I was there if you wanted to use a wood fire and braai on a wood fire as we do in South Africa, I did the same, and you'd take a little bit of petrol and throw it on top of the wood and light it

"I did it the same way, and everybody does it like that over there.

"An accident happened. They explained it to me, and it makes perfect sense. The fire just ran up into the canister, and the canister fell and the petrol spilled over their legs.

"It's superficial burns and thank goodness for that."

Nienaber, who was a physiotherapist before he moved into coaching, has seen his fair share of burn victims over the years and he has spoken to both De Allende and Snyman since. 

"I've worked in a burns unit as a physio for three years, so I understand the pain and the road they have to walk now," he said.

"It's very unfortunate and I feel for them. It could have been way worse and there could have been kids around. Accidents happen like that, and I'm just thankful that they are fine and it's not going to be a deep scarring thing and they're going to get through it.

"Is it ideal for us? No, I would have loved them to be fine and to train, but unfortunately, it's an accident and it happened.

"We just have to try now to make plans to get them into the mix as quickly as possible while looking after their welfare and wellbeing."

The first Test against the British & Irish Lions takes place in Cape Town on 24 July.

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