Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said the focus for opening stages of their preparation camp for their mid-year Tests would be on their fundamentals as the training squad continued their on-field on preparations on Wednesday for what the coach expected to be a “tough” series against Wales in July.
A group of 17 players were invited to the opening week of the training camp, with another two players added to the group, Johan Goosen (flyhalf) and Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf), to focus on their rehabilitation from injuries.
Nienaber was pleased with the opening few days of the camp and said it was satisfying to return to the field with an eye on a testing international season, which will feature three back-to-back Tests against Wales, followed by the Rugby Championship and a tour to Europe at the end of the year.
“We almost have a full team available to us, so we are doing as much as we can, and we are trying to focus on the fundamentals of the game,” Nienaber said during a virtual media conference on Wednesday.
Zoning into the Springboks’ focus this year, he said: “From a rugby perspective we are trying to develop and transform the game at different levels.
“Without going into specifics, there were areas of our game from the 2021 season that we have to improve on, so two key areas for us is to develop our game on the field and create squad depth. The latter can be done through bringing in young players, and giving guys who have already played for us, but are still young within the system, more Test experience.
“In the group that is here for example, there is a good balance between experience and youth with players such as Lukhanyo (Am) and Siya (Kolisi) and other guys like Grant (Williams), Ntuthuko (Mchunu), Aphelele (Fassi) and Jaden (Hendrikse), and it will probably be the same with players from the other teams as they complete their club commitments.”
Nienaber said he would announce a squad of close to 42 players for the international season, with the official squad announcement set for Thursday, 23 June.
Casting an eye towards the three mid-year Tests which will feature matches against Wales in Pretoria (2 July), Bloemfontein (9 July) and Cape Town (16 July), Nienaber expected a physical onslaught despite none of the Welsh teams advancing to the playoff stages of the United Rugby Championship (URC).
“Looking back at the history between the sides, I believe the Tests against Wales will be tightly contested,” said Nienaber.
“They always bring a physical edge, and they are well coached in the set pieces and defend them well too. They are also technically smart.
“Since I joined the Springboks in 2018, I think we were well beaten on the year-end tour, but several other games were determined by small margins so they will bring physicality and pride. They are already in camp, so they will be well prepared for us.
“I am under no illusions that it will be a tough series.”
For whatever reason, South African coaches almost without exception attempt to build up their opponents as if in an attempt to cushion the blow of any unforeseen defeat.
Allow The South African website to offer some common sense and reality on the Springboks v Wales series.
The Springboks will win 3-0.
Wales are utter rubbish at present. They finished fifth in this year’s Six Nations, losing at home to Italy of all opponents!
The Springboks are the world champions, ranked No 1 in the world and playing at home. Wales are ranked ninth in the world and fortunate to be that high.
As reported by The South African website, the Welsh are also sending a ‘B’ team to Mzansi having been ravaged by injury.
The series won’t even be close. Bet on that!