Springboks' 'most enjoyable' tour verdict is warning to the world
Watch out world was the reading between the lines takeaway after Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber described the past four weeks in charge of the team as one of the most enjoyable periods ever. It was quite the claim.
South Africa only won two of their four matches, copping an amount of flak from their fans at home in the earlier part of the tour. There was also a hugely distracting controversy over the Rassie Erasmus, which ended in a two-game match day ban for the director of rugby.
And then there was the frequent card trouble, reds for the unrelated du Toits, Pieter-Steph and Thomas, for their respectively bruising contact with an opposition head and also a yellow that on another day could have been red for Cheslin Kolbe.
They were the sort of headaches that should have deeply pained the Springboks head coach and yet there was Nienaber, a picture of serenity at his post-game media conference and signing off on the European tour as if it had been a thing of beauty.
If these are the type of punches that the Springboks can capably roll with on a November jaunt that took them to Dublin, Marseille, Genoa and London, then the warning to the world ten months out for their World Cup title defence is that they are ready for everything and anything that might get thrown their way in France.
Asked to sum up the tour, Nienaber enthused in the wake of the Springboks’ 27-13 win over England: “I said it to the team afterwards, it was probably one of the most enjoyable four weeks that I have had. Although we only won 50 per cent of our games, I thought in terms of the working relationship between the coaching staff, between the staff, between the performance staff, between the players, our game drivers, I thought there was clarity.
“I thought we really gelled well so although we didn’t get the result in the first two games on tour, I thought we were in a with a chance and so yeah, it was enjoyable. We were creative in terms of the plans we made and we stuck with it and yeah, we gave it a good go in terms of that.
“There were a lot of other enjoyable times but I thought this group, these four games, they really came up with great ownership from a players’ point of view, from a management point of view and that was quite pleasing.”
Incredibly, Nienaber even admitted to not knowing the full-time Twickenham score. “It was a stern challenge. I mean, we needed to get out stuff right on the day. It was definitely if you look, I don’t even know what the scoreline was, I mean it was a humdinger for me up to the end. We all saw what England is capable of last weekend, they came back (against the All Blacks).
“From our side, from the coaching box, we knew they had the ability in them like they did last week. You are never comfortable. We pushed hard to try and get territory, to try and get another score because we felt it was a little bit too close but yeah, happy for the guys sticking and pulling it off at the end.”
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