Eben Etzebeth says Jacques Nienaber was a favourite among the players to succeed Rassie Erasmus as Springbok head coach.
Nienaber, who was previously in charge of the Springbok defensive strategies, was confirmed as the new head coach earlier this year as Erasmus took a step back to focus his responsibilities as SA Rugby director of rugby.
In an interview with Netwerk24, Etzebeth said he was confident every Springbok player would have given Nienaber the thumbs-up to take over from Erasmus.
‘Jacques is my coach. So, any player will have to be careful what they answer,’ the lock said with a chuckle.
‘But I can honestly say that all 31 guys in that group would have mentioned Jacques’ name if they were asked who the next Bok coach should be.’
Nienaber and Erasmus have a long history, first becoming friends at the army before crossing paths again at the University of the Free State.
The duo first coached together when Erasmus was appointed head coach at the Free State Cheetahs and brought Nienaber on initially as a strength and conditioning coach. Nienaber then followed Erasmus in his later stints with the Stormers and Munster.
‘He worked under Rassie for long and knows exactly what it takes to be a head coach,’ Etzebeth added. ‘Ever since I started working with Jacques at the Stormers in 2012, it was unbelievable for me how he got the best out of players. His defence strategies are at another level.’
Photo: Steve/Haag/Gallo Images