Bok defence guru embraces lessons in NZ defeat

Jacques Nienaber (Getty)
Jacques Nienaber (Getty)

Cape Town - The Springboks will be stronger for their defeat by New Zealand, believes Jacques Nienaber, the team's assistant coach and defence specialist.

Nienaber says that the team had already incorporated the lessons they had taken from the 23-13 defeat into their preparations for Saturday's African derby against Namibia at the City of Toyota Stadium.

And he believes the experience was perfect preparation for the playoff challenges the team is hoping to experience at the end of the pool phase.

"It's always nice to see what challenges New Zealand would throw at us," he said on Thursday.

"We had an idea that they would kick a little bit more and they kicked a lot more! I probably didn't expect them to kick that much but, yes, we did expect a lot of attacking kicks.

"Out of the 21 they kicked that we had to defend, I think there was about eight that I would say they had the upper hand on and, unfortunately, two were catastrophic for us, but the others I thought we handled fairly well.

"It's always a benefit to play the No 1 team in the world. It was like playing a semi-final game in your pool. I thought we learned a lot from it. I know people always say 'we'll learn from it', but we really did.

"For us it was a great match in terms of tactics, physical confrontation, getting challenged in all departments; mentally, the build-up during the week, the enormity of the game, then in the game itself, the physicality, the speed of the game.

"You know if you play the All Blacks and you make two errors it's 14 points - we made three consecutively and it was 17 points. So it's nice to play a game like that where there is that much pressure and where if you make a mistake they're going to punish you."

Nienaber's focus - and that of the rest of the coaches - has been on eradicating those mistakes and the challenge of Namibia will see those developing strategies put to the test. It does not mean a revision of the plan or a change as a result of a change in 13 of the starting XV for Saturday's match: but a constant improvement and evolution of it.

"Our system will develop, and obviously New Zealand opened up something in the way they attack and their style of play that we have to address and work on so it was nice to get that insight and start focusing on that," said Nienaber.

"Because we have been together through the Rugby Championship it has been great to work with the guys. I thought we had an unbelievable vibe at the training on Wednesday in terms of the intensity and the things that we wanted to fix; so we had nice focus and that’s the nice thing. These guys haven't played for two or three weeks so they had an abundance of energy.

"We’ve got a plan in terms of developing the squad. That will always take precedence over everything else. “We try and develop our game across the board with attack, defence, kicking, mental approach and our work ethic during the week and we try and improve on that.

"So in my mind sitting here if we concede three points that will be a good defensive performance and if we concede 30 I'll be disappointed. But there are bigger things than that we would like to achieve in the game.

"Obviously there were things that we lacked in the New Zealand test and we want to improve on those and build our systems and the skillset of our individual players within the system. Seeing improvement in those areas would be more joyful for me than how many or how few points we concede."

Saturday's clash against Namibia is scheduled for 11:45 (SA time).



15 Johan Tromp, 14 Chad Plato, 13 JC Greyling, 12 Peter John Walters, 11 Lesley Klim, 10 Cliven Loubser, 9 Eugene Jantjies, 8 Adriaan Booysen, 7 Muharua Katjijeko, 6 Thomasau Forbes, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi (captain), 4 Johan Retief, 3 AJ de Klerk, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Desiderius Sethie

Substitutes: 16 Obert Nortje, 17 Andre Rademeyer, 18 Johannes Coetzee, 19 Prince Gaoseb, 20 Janco Venter, 21 Wian Conradie, 22 Helarius Axasman Kisting, 23 Johan Deysel

South Africa

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Schalk Brits (captain), 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Steven Kitshoff, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Eben Etzebeth, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Cheslin Kolbe

Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
46% - 4054 votes
11% - 998 votes
18% - 1598 votes
2% - 181 votes
1% - 78 votes
2% - 184 votes
5% - 448 votes
8% - 688 votes
3% - 287 votes
Water sports
1% - 66 votes
American sports
1% - 69 votes
3% - 230 votes