Springboks

Nienaber warns Springboks of 'extra spice' on UK tour as part of Lions backlash

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Eben Etzebeth of South Africa and British & Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones. (Gallo)
Eben Etzebeth of South Africa and British & Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones. (Gallo)
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has warned his charges to expect "extra spice" in their matches on the tour to the UK as opposition aim to atone for the Lions series failure.
  • But he also points out that the Boks' world champion status means there's inherently a target on their collective back.
  • A relatively conservative squad selection is also down to South Africa not being unbeaten on a year-end tour since 2013.

Given the awkward, sometimes downright ill-tempered nature of the Springboks' series victory over the British & Irish Lions, national coach Jacques Nienaber is realistic enough to acknowledge that next month's three-Test tour of the UK will have some additional needle.

"There will obviously be a bit of spice in our games on tour," he said, ahead of the Green-and-Gold's departure for France this weekend, where they'll be based for a week before moving on to Wales.

The Boks first assignment on the trips is against the Dragons on November 6.

"I believe our opposition will definitely be keen to rectify what happened in the series here. But we also need to take into account that we are the reigning world champions and that means that opposition will simply be more motivated to perform against us. Teams are going to come at us regardless."

While England, South Africa's final meeting of the tour have some selection issues to sort out owing to a mounting injury list to key performers, the claims of the Welsh and Scots will be substantial.

"This Northern Hemisphere tour is going to be a big challenge for us, especially if you go and look at the squads that the coaches have selected," said Nienaber, adding:

Wales are a team that are getting eight British and Irish Lions players back and if you look at their squad they have massive experience. Of the three 10s they picked in the squad Gareth Anscombe is the least experienced and he's got 35 Test caps, the other guy is close to 50 and Dan Biggar is close to a hundred.

"So experience is going to be a massive challenge. They also have very good game drivers like Ken Owens and Alun Wyn Jones. But if you look at all three teams including Scotland and England, experience is going to be key.

"Even though Eddie Jones has chosen a younger squad (for England) if you look at the spine, it's strong.

"Scotland has Ali Price, Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg, Duhan van der Merwe who all speak for themselves, so they have quality players and that will be a challenge for our outside backs."

Yet the Boks' biggest stumbling block in a quest to finish 2021 on a high might be their own demons.

End-of-year tours have become decidedly low-key for the side, with their last unbeaten trip being back in 2013 when they beat Wales, Scotland and France under Heyneke Meyer.

The burning desire to break that habit for underachievement is one of the reasons why Bok management kept their selection strategy conservative.

"We haven't won all three in almost a decade, so it is a big challenge for us," said Nienaber.

"That's also why we selected this squad. We are 20 Test matches out from the 2023 World Cup, so I think the big thing for us is to build continuity, consistency and improve our game.

"We lost a lot of momentum by not participating in any international rugby in 2020, so it’s almost trying to build on our game, get better at what we are trying to do, see where there are opportunities to evolve. Also, I think it’s a good opportunity to get used to some of the conditions we might see in 2023."

Springbok squad

Forwards

Thomas du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Joseph Dweba, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Salmaan Moerat, Marvin Orie, Siya Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert  

Backs

Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams, Elton Jantjies, Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Jesse Kriel, Aphelele Fassi, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Frans Steyn, Damian Willemse

    
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