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Nienaber heaps praise on players as South Africa crack 'tough' Pumas nut

By Kim Ekin
South Africa's blindside flanker and captain Siya Kolisi (C) celebrates with South Africa's wing Aphelele Fassi (R) during the Rugby Championship international rugby union Test match between South Africa and Argentina at The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (Photo by Michael Sheehan / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL SHEEHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has heaped praise on the Springboks after they bagged a 32-12 victory over Argentina Nelson Mandela Bay to get their Rugby Championship off to a running start.

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There were ten changes to the Springboks team that earned a 2-1 series victory over the British & Irish Lions seven days prior, suggesting South Africa’s strength in depth is more than healthy.

“The work the players put in was awesome,” he said. “We had a couple of beers on Saturday after the Series win but we knew we were going straight into the Rugby Championship, and on Monday when I started the first session, I could see the guys were really clued up and ready to go.

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“We knew that playing five tests in a row was a big ask and we made a couple of changes, but you could see the freshness of the players who had come in, after not playing for a few weeks some of them. We had a defence session on Wednesday and you could see that some of the guys that had played on Saturday were a bit iffy, but the new guys were climbing into the session and were raring to go.”

The Springboks will face the same opposition at the same venue next weekend.

“We knew that cohesion would be an issue with so many changes, but the guys got really stuck in. Argentina are a tough nut to crack but hats off to the players – I thought the analysis they did was spot on and the plans they put in place were great.”

Nienaber admitted that captain Siya Kolisi had been doubtful for the game after suffering from a gastric bug but was cleared to start. Kolisi said that he had had every confidence in the team’s ability to cope with the changed line-up.

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“The one thing that I love about this team is that there are no ‘senior’ players or anything like that, and everyone had their own job,” he said. “If something goes wrong in the maul, at the breakdown or in the scrum we know who to look to to fix it.

“We were never in a panic today; we were in control a lot of the time.”

Cobus Reinach, Aphelele Fassi and debutant Jaden Hendrikse all scored five pointers with Elton Jantjies landing five out of seven kicks at goal with one conversion and five penalties.

The win put them second to New Zealand on Rugby Championship table on points difference’ the Boks 20-point advantage over Argentina, edged by New Zealand’s 35-point difference from their 57-22 win over Australia.

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Nienaber heaps praise on players as South Africa crack 'tough' Pumas nut

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