Head coach Jacques Nienaber says fans should not expect any surprises in team selection during the upcoming tour of the United Kingdom as the Springboks target consistency in their performances. DYLAN JACK reports.
Nienaber was speaking after the Springbok squad – minus their players based in the UK – arrived in France for a pre-tour training camp.
The 32-man squad includes just two uncapped players in scrumhalf Grant Williams and lock Salmaan Moerat.
This is despite injuries to several injured players, including scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, tighthead prop Frans Malherbe and wing Cheslin Kolbe, ruling them out of the tour.
The Springboks begin the tour against Wales on 6 November, before facing Scotland a week later and then concluding with a trip to Twickenham to take on England on 20 November.
Nienaber explained that, with the Springboks looking to end their year on a high, there won’t be too many surprise selections in any of the three Tests, bar for a loss of form or injuries.
“From a squad point of view, if you look at the squad, except for the injuries that we have, we are building consistency,” Nienaber said. “Since the World Cup, we have only played 10 Test matches because we lost out on 2020 due to Covid.
“So the key thing for us is to build consistency again. Consistency in our performances and preparations. So I don’t think there will be a lot of surprises in team selection and what we put out.
“In saying that, nobody is irreplaceable in our squad. There is so much good competition. If you think that we played in the Lions series without Duane Vermeulen, we played the final game without Faf de Klerk, we played in the Rugby Championship without Cheslin Kolbe and in the last Test match against New Zealand without Frans Malherbe.
“From that perspective, we know as a group that nobody is irreplaceable. We must also know that we have to perform. When the players are at their clubs, they have to stake their claim for selection and players who are with us now have to train well to stake their claim.
“Saying that, knowing this group, we all work hard and take nothing for granted. That’s why I say there won’t be surprises in selection. There is enough competition that if you slack off, there is someone to take your spot.”
As far as the scrumhalf gap goes, Nienaber said that he was impressed by Cobus Reinach’s performance for Montpellier against Racing 92 on Saturday, during which the player managed to grab two tries.
“The guys know what they have to do. Obviously, with Faf injured, there’s a potential spot open. Between Cobus, Herschel and Grant, it is going to be a tough one. But that’s what you want in a squad. You want good competition that drives standards.
“Cobus has been excellent for us. He played against the British & Irish Lions series and Faf came back in during the Rugby Championship and I think about how good Herschel was against New Zealand.
“So we are very fortunate from a Springboks view that we have such good nines, all pushing for starting spots.”
Photo: EPA/Dave Hunt