Education and communication are part of the Springboks’ arsenal for the challenges ahead.
The national teams’ preparations for the upcoming international season have moved up a gear with SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, Bok coach Jacques Nienaber and others conducting a series of “alignment camps” at the country’s franchises.
The Boks’ brains trust are currently dealing with a small group of players from the Lions and Bulls in Gauteng, according to SA Rugby.
They will next travel to Durban to repeat the exercise with selected Sharks players on Thursday and Friday.
The Stormers’ players will attend a similar camp activity in Cape Town next Monday and then the Bok coaching and management staff visit Bloemfontein next Wednesday.
There are also sessions coming up with Springbok players based in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Japan.
Erasmus says these alignment exercises are the next phase of the Springboks’ strategic planning and preparation as they prepare for a return to Test rugby.
The 2021 season sees the much-anticipated Castle Lager Lions Series in South Africa, the Castle Lager Rugby Championship as well as the traditional end-of-year tour to Europe.
“With a very busy and demanding international season looming, it is important we get everyone aligned as soon as possible,” said Erasmus in a statement from SA Rugby on Tuesday.
“Although Jacques and his coaching staff have been in constant communication with the players throughout the past 15 months or so — keeping tabs on their performances, injury recovery and general wellbeing — we are now very excited and looking forward to meeting the players in a familiar team environment.”
Erasmus explained that with less than 90 days remaining before the arrival of the touring British & Irish Lions, they will have to make every day count.
“The local players will meet up with the coaches, medical and conditioning staff and rest of the management over the next two weeks, while we have similar plans for our European and Japanese-based players, with Felix Jones hosting sessions in the UK and France, and the Japanese based-players joining us on virtual meetings,” explained Erasmus.
Nienaber, who took over as head coach in 2020, explained that due to the limited time available for the squad, it will be important that the players get as much logistical and other relevant arrangements out of the way before the start of the training camps.
“There’s a lot of excitement, from players to coaches and the management staff, to finally get together and kick-start our preparations for what promises to be a very busy and challenging international season,” he said.
“A lot of background planning has already been done, but we are now looking forward to shift our focus and preparation into a higher level because time is of the essence. We have purposefully kept the groups small so we can drill into as much specifics as possible.
“The players will get a lot of logistics, technical and tactical detail to absorb so by the time we’ve completed this alignment roundup, they will all be up to speed of what exactly is required from them during their upcoming club and franchise games and the training camps leading up the Lions Test series,” added Nienaber.