Jacques Nienaber says No 8 Jasper Wiese’s steady growth and development in the Springbok jersey is thanks to his willingness to learn from his peers. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Wiese has been excellent in the English Premiership since joining Leicester Tigers in 2020 and it was that superb form that paid for his ticket to the Springbok set-up.
He went on to make his Test debut against Georgia earlier this year, and while he missed out on selection in the series-opener against the British & Irish Lions, Wiese forced his way into the starting lineup and played an influential role in the last two Tests of the riveting series.
However, it was in South Africa’s first game of the 2021 Rugby Championship, against Argentina last week, that Wiese produced his breakthrough performance — so much so that it earned him the Man of the Match award.
Commenting on Wiese’s gradual growth at Test level, Nienaber said it was comforting to see the rookie delivering exactly what the Bok coaches expect of him at this stage of his fledgling career.
“Jasper has played four Tests now and I’d say it’s easier in the beginning. People don’t know him that well and he could almost fly under the radar (in previous weeks). But when they start taking notice of him and start analysing and profiling him, things will get a little bit tougher,” Nienaber said.
“And he (Wiese) is probably there now, where people will take notice of him. He had a good performance (against Argentina) on the weekend. Jasper is still in the early bit of his international career and there’s still a long way and a lot of years to go to build up Test caps and to gain experience. But he is exactly where he should be. He is currently doing for us what he delivered when we started doing performance reports on him when he was playing for Leicester. And that’s why we selected him: to deliver what he delivered over there.
“He’s working hard and he’s positive. He is a student of the game, he’s a like a sponge, absorbing everything that gets thrown his way. He is not an egoistic guy that doesn’t want to learn from other people. He learns and that’s the beauty of current our squad,” he explained.
Nienaber also lauded Duane Vermeulen, who is currently in the squad but unavailable for selection due to injury, the role he is playing and the impact he is making on Wiese.
“We have Duane here that can pour his 50-odd Test match experience into Jasper,” he said.
“So Jasper doesn’t have to play 20 Test matches to get the knowledge because he is getting it from Duane. So hats off to Duane for being open and willing to share. That’s pretty much where the squad is currently, they are willing to share their knowledge with the younger, less experienced players as they come through.”
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