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The Springboks verdict on regulation nine and the threat of England

By Liam Heagney
Regulation nine leaves Harlequins' Andre Esterhuizen and Leicester's Jasper Wiese unavailable to the Springboks this week (Photo by Nderim Kaceli/LiveMedia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber has spoken about the impact of World Rugby regulation nine on this week’s team selection and what he makes of England, their opponents in next Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series finale. South Africa lost six members of their squad due to their Twickenham match falling outside the agreed window governing the release of non-home-based players this month.

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With the Japanese clubs currently in their off-season, Nienaber was able to retain the likes of the Far East-based Faf de Klerk. However, Cheslin Kolke, Andre Esterhuizen and Jasper Wiese, a trio of starters last Saturday versus Italy, had to be released back to Toulon, Harlequins and Leicester respectively.

Vincent Koch and Cobus Reinach, two of last weekend’s replacements in Genoa, were also needed back at Stade Francais and Montpellier respectively and with Trevor Nyakane also Racing-bound, Nienaber had to call up a half-dozen players last Sunday, five from the SA A team beaten at Munster and Bristol and Canan Moodie. The fit-again Moodie, Marco van Staden and Thomas du Toit have now all made the bench for this Saturday’s Test game.

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“It [regulation nine] is what it is, we knew when we organised this game that it was going to be outside the Test match window and the players knew it.

“If you look at the development of the squad over this year and you look at the growth of some of the players coming into the mix and us developing succession panning in positions, we always saw this Test match as an opportunity to get some of the younger players involved. Let’s call them less experienced players.

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“It is a great opportunity for them and from our side, we are quite looking forward to how they perform in this big Test match. I know England have this relationship with its clubs and they can have all their players but for us, we can’t have the French-based players or the Irish-based players or the English-based players but it is what it is and it is good for us. We still feel that we can get a team out there that is good enough to compete.”

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Asked for his thoughts on the current form of England, who lost, won and drawn in their three November games compared to two losses and a win for their Springboks, Nienaber said: “England are a quality side, well-coached, and I mean if you look at their results, I know people will look at their Argentina result, but if you look at the result against Japan and if you look at their result against New Zealand, they are a team that don’t go away.

“They got themselves back into the game with less than seven or eight minutes to go and if you look at even the results that went against them, I’m thinking now Australia result (first Test in July), the Argentina result, those games were close and a decision here or there or an opportunity taken here or there could have changed the result.

“They are a quality side and there has been a lot of development in their game and it is going to be a nice challenge for us and we are quite looking forward to it.”

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