Ex-Bok has faith in Nienaber to 'take Rassie's Bok project forward'

Jacques Nienaber (Gallo)
Jacques Nienaber (Gallo)

Former Springbok forward AJ Venter is confident that Jacques Nienaber will make a success of his tenure as head coach of the national team.

Register your interest for the British & Irish Lions tickets in South Africa 2021

Nienaber, previously the team's defence guru, has taken over the head coaching responsibilities from Rassie Erasmus, who has taken a back seat to focus on his director of rugby role at SA Rugby.

Venter, who played provincially for Free State, Golden Lions, Sharks and Western Province, told Sport24 in an exclusive interview that he's known Nienaber for a long time.

"When I was playing at the Free State, Jacques was the physiotherapist so I have known him for 20 years. There is no one with more heart and commitment than him. The hours he puts in is just phenomenal and he will have absolute commitment to his team and South Africa for that matter," Venter said.

Erasmus and Nienaber have a long history, having first met in the army before crossing paths at the University of the Free State's Shimlas team where Nienaber was the physiotherapist and Erasmus the captain.

When Erasmus became coach of the Free State Cheetahs, he appointed Nienaber as strength and conditioning coach, with the latter later shifting his focus to the team's defensive structures.
Nienaber followed Erasmus to the Stormers and also Munster in Ireland, before starting at the Springboks in 2018.

Venter, who played 25 Tests for the Springboks as a loose forward and lock between 2000 and 2006, added: "I'm not exactly sure how far removed Rassie is going to be from the whole coaching dynamic but I think he will still be closely involved with everything. However, I have absolute faith in Jacques to take the project forward.

"It's true that it's quite a big step up for Jacques, having never previously been a head coach but I don't think Rassie would have made this decision without much thought. He knows and is comfortable that Jacques will do the job well. However, Rassie is also aware he'll always only be an arm's length away from the team situation."

READ | AJ Venter's full Q&A interview with Sport24

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
42% - 8828 votes
11% - 2262 votes
19% - 4040 votes
2% - 523 votes
1% - 187 votes
2% - 488 votes
5% - 1032 votes
9% - 1783 votes
3% - 719 votes
Water sports
1% - 195 votes
American sports
1% - 260 votes
3% - 657 votes