Assistant coach Jacques Nienaber says the Springboks are still in a developmental phase under boss Rassie Erasmus.
Speaking at a media conference in the aftermath of the 10-point loss to the All Blacks and ahead of the Springboks’ second World Cup pool match – against Namibia – Nienaber pointed out that South Africa are not yet the full package.
‘We’ve got a plan in terms of developing the squad, that would always take preference above anything and so we try to develop our game across the board – attack, defence, kicking, mental approach, work ethic. We always try to improve on those things,’ Nienaber said.
‘For example, there is no point in setting limits for the number of points scored and/or conceded per match. We’ve got certain things that we would like to achieve in a game, and obviously we saw things that we lacked in the Test against New Zealand, and we want to improve our systems and the skill sets of the individual players within those systems. Seeing improvement there will be more joyful than maybe only conceding the number of points you set yourself to concede,’ he explained.
Following the Boks’ loss to the All Blacks and Ireland’s commanding win over Scotland, South Africa appear to be on a collision course with the Irish in the quarter-finals. But Nienaber is adamant that the Boks are better prepared for the quarter-final because of the tough pool fixture against New Zealand.
‘I told Rassie it’s probably a benefit to play a semi-final type of game in the pool stages. I know it is a cliche, but we learned a lot from it. For us it was a great match in terms getting tested on all areas of the game – tactical play, physicality, speed, mental toughness, and dealing with the enormous buildup during the week,’ said Nienaber.
‘You know if you play the All Blacks and you make two errors, it’s 14 points. We made three consecutively and it was 17 points. So it’s nice to play in a game like that [early in the tournament], where there is pressure on you.’
The Boks defence coach did, however, laud Ireland’s defensive structure and organisation, especially after they prevented Scotland from scoring a try in their opening match at the World Cup.
‘We didn’t watch the game against Scotland in too much detail, we were travelling at the time. But if you look at all internationals teams’ defence from the last year or so, I think Wales and Ireland conceded 1.2 tries per match, so around about 15 points per match. And depending on what metric you use, they were probably the stingiest defences around. Ireland are a phenomenal defensive unit. They are solid as a rock as always.’
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